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Revelation 17 1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of 1 abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, 2 BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. 7 And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. 8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. 9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. 10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. 11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. 12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. Daigre: Ten horn beast may represent the 10 elite secret societies of the world. All of these secret groups worship some women goddess in secret and they all have a form of the Solomon Seal (666) in they symbolism somewhere. They also are believed to rule the world. The most powerful men in the world are all a part of one of these groups. Spirit of Nimrod. Look below and the information on each of the 10 top secret societies. 1. Skull and Bones [Wikipedia] Members of the Skull and Bones (George Bush is left of the clock)  The Order of Skull and Bones, a Yale University society, was originally known as the Brotherhood of Death. It is one of the oldest student secret societies in the United States. It was founded in 1832 and membership is open to an elite few. The society uses masonic inspired rituals to this day. Members meet every Thursday and Sunday of each week in a building they call the ―Tomb‖. According to Judy Schiff, Chief Archivist at the Yale University Library, the names of the members were not kept secret until the 1970s, but the rituals always have been. Both of the Bush presidents were members of the society while studying at Yale, and a number of other members have gone on to great fame and fortune. The society is surrounded by conspiracy theories; the most popular of which is probably the idea that the CIA was built on members from the group. The CIA released a statement in 2007 (coinciding with the popularity of the film The Good Shepherd) in which it denied that the group was an incubator for the CIA. You can read that document here. 2. Freemasons [Wikipedia] Freemasons Annual Meeting  The Grand Masonic Lodge was created in 1717 when four small groups of lodges joined together. Membership levels were initially first and second degree, but in the 1750s this was expanded to create the third degree which caused a split in the group. When a person reaches the third degree, they are called a Master Mason. Masons conduct their regular meetings in a ritualized style. This includes many references to architectural symbols such as the compass and square. They refer to God as ―The Great Architect of the Universe‖. The three degrees of Masonry are: 1: Entered Apprentice, this makes you a basic member of the group. 2: Fellow Craft, this is an intermediate degree in which you are meant to develop further knowledgeof Masonry. 3: Master Mason, this degree is necessary for participating in most masonic activities. Some rites (such as the Scottish rite) list up to 33 degrees of membership. Masons use signs and handshakes to gain admission to their meetings, as well as to identify themselves to other people who may be Masons. The signs and handshakes often differ from one jurisdiction to another and are often changed or updated. Thisprotects the group from people finding out how to gain admission under false pretenses. Masons also wear stylized clothing based upon the clothing worn by stone masons from the middle ages. The most well known of these is the apron. In order to become a Mason, you must generally be recommended by a current mason. In some cases you must be recommended three times before you can join. You have to be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. Many religions frown upon membership of the Masons, and the Roman Catholic Church forbids Catholics to join under pain of excommunication. 3. Rosicrucians [Wikipedia] Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians The Rosicrucian order is generally believed to have been the idea of a group of German protestants in the 1600s when a series of three documents were published: Fama Fraternitatis Rosae Crucis, Confessio Fraternitatis, and The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz anno 1459. The documents were so widely read and influential, that the historian Frances Yeats refers to the 17th century as the Rosicrucian Enlightenment. The first document tells the story of a mysteriousalchemist (Christian Rosenkreuz) who travelled to various parts of the world gathering secret knowledge. The second document tells of a secret brotherhood of alchemists who were preparing to change the political and intellectual face of Europe. The third document describes the invitation of Christian Rosenkreuz to attend and assist at the ―Chemical‖ wedding of a King and Queen in a castle of Miracles. Current members of the Rosicrucian Order claim that its origins are far more ancient than these documents. The authors of the documents seemed to strongly favor Lutheranism and include condemnations of the Catholic Church. Rosicrucianism probably had an influence on Masonry and, in fact, the 18th degree of Scottish Rite Masonry is called the Knight of the Rose Croix (red cross). There are a large number of Rosicrucian groups today – each claiming to be closely tied to the original. Of the two main divisions, one is a mix of Christianity with Rosicrucian principles, and the other is semi-Masonic. The Masonic type tend to also have degrees of membership. 4. Ordo Templis Orientis [Wikipedia] Crowley with OTO Instruments The OTO (Order of the Temples of the East) is an organization that was originally modeled on Masonry but, under the leadership of the self-styled ―Great Beast‖Aleister Crowley, it took on the principles of his religious system called Thelema. Thelema is based around a single law: ―Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, love is the law, love under the will‖ . Membership is based upon degrees of initiation and highly stylized rituals are used. The OTO currently claims over3,000 members worldwide. Crowley created a ―Mass‖ for the OTO which is called the Gnostic Mass. Of the ―Mass‖, Crowley wrote: ―I resolved that my Ritual should celebrate the sublimity of the operation of universal forces without introducing disputable metaphysical theories. I would neither make nor imply any statement about nature which would not be endorsed by the most materialistic man of science. On the surface this may sound difficult; but in practice I found it perfectly simple to combine the most rigidly rational conceptions of phenomena with the most exalted and enthusiastic celebration of their sublimity.‖ The ritual is very stylized and uses virgin priestesses, children, and priests. Many Ancient Egyptian God’s are invoked, as well as the Devil, and at one point the priestess performs a naked ritual. 5. Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn [Wikipedia] Golden Dawn Symbolism The order of the Golden Dawn was created by Dr. William Robert Woodman, William Wynn Westcott, and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers. All three wereFreemasons and members of Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (an organization with ties to Masonry). It is considered by many to be a forerunner of the Ordo Templi Orientis and a majority of modern Occult groups. The belief system of the Golden Dawn is largely taken from Christian mysticism,Qabalah, Hermeticism, the religion of Ancient Egypt, Freemasonry, Alchemy, Theosophy, Magic, and Renaissance writings. William Yeats, and Aleister Crowly are two of the more famous members of the group. The fundamental documents of the order are known as the Cipher Documents. These were translated into English using a cipher attributed to Johannes Trithemius. The documents are a series of 60 folios containing magic rituals. The basic structure of many of these rituals appear to originate with Rosicrucianism. There is a great deal of controversy surrounding the origins of these documents. 6. The Knights Templar [Wikipedia] Mediaeval Templar’s Sword The Knights Templar (full name: The United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta) is a modern off-shoot of Masonry and does not have a direct tie to the original Knights Templar – a religious military group formed in the 12th century. Members of the Masonic Knights Templar do not claim a direct connection to the medieval group, but merely a borrowing of ideas and symbols. In order to become a member of this group, you must already be a Christian Master Mason. This organization is a distinct one, and is not just a higher degree of Masonry. Despite Freemasonry’s general disclaimer that no one Masonic organization claims a direct heritage to the medieval Knights Templar, certain degrees and orders are obviously patterned after the medieval Order. These are best described as ―commemorative orders‖ or degrees. Nevertheless, in spite of the fraternity’s official disclaimers, some Masons, nonMasons, and even anti-Masons insist that certain Masonic rites or degrees originally had direct Templar influence. 7. The Illuminati [Wikipedia] The Pyramid, an illuminati symbol A movement of freethinkers that were the most radical offshoot of TheEnlightenment — whose followers were given the name Illuminati (but who called themselves ―Perfectibilists‖) — was founded on May 1, 1776 in Ingolstadt (Upper Bavaria), by Jesuittaught Adam Weishaupt. This group is now known as the ,1776 in Ingolstadt (Upper Bavaria), by Jesuit-taught Adam Weishaupt. This group is now known as the Bavarian Illuminati. While it was not legally allowed to operate, many influential intellectuals and progressive politicians counted themselves as members. Even though there were some known Freemasons in the membership, it was not considered to be endorsed by Masonry. The fact that the Illuminati did not require a belief in a supreme being made them particularly popular amongst atheists. This, and the fact that most members were humanists, is the reason for the widespread belief that the Illuminati wants to overthrow organized religion. Internal panic over the succession of a new leader, and government attempts tooutlaw the group saw to it collapsing entirely in the late 1700s. Despite this,conspiracy theorists such as David Icke and Was Penre, have argued that the Bavarian Illuminati survived, possibly to this day, though very little reliable evidence can be found to support the idea that Weishaupt’s group survived into the 19th century. It has even been suggested that the Skull and Bones club is an American branch of the Illuminati. Many people believe that the Illuminati is still operating and managing the main actions of the governments of the world. It is believed that they wish to create aOne World Government based on humanist and atheist principles. 8. The Bilderberg Group [Wikipedia] A Bilderberg Meeting This group is slightly different from the others in that it does not have an officialmembership. It is the name given to a group of highly influential people who meet ever year in secrecy (and usually with strong military and government sponsored security). The topics discussed are kept secret. The structure of the meetings is that of a conference – usually held in five star hotels around the world. Attendance at the meeting is strictly by invitation only. The first meeting took place in 1954 at the Hotel Bilderberg in the Netherlands. The original meeting was initiated by several people. Polish emigre and political adviser, Joseph Retinger, concerned about the growth of anti-Americanism in Western Europe, proposed an international conference at which leaders from European countries and the United States would be brought together with the aim of promoting understanding between the cultures of The United States of America and Western Europe. Although the agenda and list of participants are openly available to the public, it is not clear that such details are disclosed by the group itself. Also, the contents of the meetings are kept secret and attendees pledge not to divulge what was discussed. The group’s stated justification for secrecy is that it enables people to speak freely without the need to carefully consider how every word might be interpreted by the mass media. Needless to say, this group is constantly surrounded by controversy and conspiracy theories. 9. The Priory of Sion [Wikipedia] Logo of the Priori of Sion After the publication of the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, a great deal of interest in the Priory of Sion has been created. Unfortunately for those hoping to find and join the Priory, it is, in fact, fictional. It was a hoax created in 1956 by a pretender to the French Throne, Pierre Plantard. Letters in existence dating from the 1960s written by Plantard, de Cherisey and de Sède to each other confirm that the three were engaging in an out-and-out confidence trick, describing schemes on how to combat criticisms of their various allegations and how they would make up new allegationsto try to keep the whole thing going. Despite this, many people still continue tobelieve that the Priory exists and functions to this day. The authors of the well known book, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, misled by the hoax, stated: 1. The Priory of Sion has a long history starting in AD 1099, and had illustrious Grand Masters including Isaac Newton and Leonardo da Vinci. 2. The order protects certain royal claimants because they believe them to be the literal descendants of Jesus and his alleged wife Mary Magdalene or, at the very least, of king David. 3. The priory seeks the founding of a ―Holy European Empire‖ that would become the next hyperpower and usher in a new world order of peace and prosperity. 10. Opus Dei [Wikipedia] Ordination of Opus Dei Priests Opus Dei is an organization of the Catholic Church that emphasizes the Catholic belief that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity. The celibate numeraries and numerary assistants live in special centers, while associates are celibate members living in their private homes. The order was founded in Spain in 1928 by Roman Catholic priest Josemaría Escrivá with the approval of Pope Pius XII. When Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code was published, it claimed that Opus Dei was a secret organization within the Church whose aim was to defeat the Priory of Sion and those who seek to uncover the ―truth‖ about Christianity and the alleged royalbloodline of Christ. Outside of the book, there has been a great deal of controversy over Opus Dei because of the strictness of its religious structure. The Catholic Church forbids secret societies and membership in them, and Opus Dei investigators have frequently debunked claims that this organization is acting in secrecy to further a sinister agenda. Skull and Bones From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Redirected from Skull and bones) For other uses, see Skull and crossbones (disambiguation). The logo of Skull and Bones Skull and Bones in 1947, with George H. W. Bush just left of the clock Skull and Bones is an undergraduate senior or secret society at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. It is a traditional peer society to Scroll and Key and Wolf's Head, as the three senior class "landed societies" at Yale. The society's alumni organization, which owns the society's real property and oversees the organization, is the Russell Trust Association, named for William Huntington Russell, who co-founded Skull and Bones with classmate Alphonso Taft. The Russell Trust was founded by Russell and Daniel Coit Gilman, member of Skull and Bones and later president of the University of California, first president of Johns Hopkins University, and the founding president of the Carnegie Institution. The society is known informally as "Bones", and members are known as "Bonesmen". History Skull and Bones was founded in 1832 after a dispute among Yale's debating societies, Linonia, Brothers in Unity, and the Calliopean Society, over that season's Phi Beta Kappa awards; its original name was "the Order of Skull and Bones." The only chapter of Skull and Bones created outside Yale was a chapter at Wesleyan University in 1870. That chapter, the Beta of Skull and Bones, became independent in 1872 in a dispute about control over creating additional chapters; the Beta Chapter reconstituted itself as Theta Nu Epsilon. The first extended description of Skull and Bones, published in 1871 by Lyman Bagg in his book Four Years at Yale, noted that "the mystery now attending its existence forms the one great enigma which college gossip never tires of discussing." Brooks Mather Kelley attributed the secrecy of Yale senior societies to the fact that underclassmen members of freshman, sophomore, and junior class societies remained on campus following their membership, while seniors naturally left. Deer Island lodge. Skull and Bones owns an island in the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York named Deer Island: The 40 acre retreat is intended to give Bonesmen an opportunity to "get together and rekindle old friendships." A century ago the island sported tennis courts and its softball fields were surrounded by rhubarb plants and gooseberry bushes. Catboats waited on the lake. Stewards catered elegant meals. Although each new Skull and Bones member still visits Deer Island, the place leaves something to be desired. "Now it is just a bunch of burned-out stone buildings," a patriarch sighs. "It's basically ruins." Another Bonesman says that to call the island "rustic" would be to glorify it. "It's a dump, but it's beautiful." —Alexandra Robbins, TheAtlantic.com Once the pinnacle of the college's social system, the society remained central to campus life through the 1950s, but since then some say it has lost much of its luster. Tapping Skull and Bones selects new members every spring as part of Yale University's "Tap Day", and has done so since 1879. Recent Tap Days were held on April 20, 2009,, 2009, and April 15, 2010. Every year, Skull and Bones selects fifteen men and women of the junior class to join the society. Skull and Bones traditionally "tapped" those that it viewed as campus leaders and other notable figures for its membership. The Tapping ceremony has always been a public event at Yale. The traditional form was followed for generations: Every year, ... about 200 hopeful juniors gather on the grass in Branford College court (until 1933 they stood by the Fence in front of Durfee on the old campus). At the stroke of 5, senior members of the societies, wearing their pins, black ties and blue suits, march through the crowd, tap their men. A tappee hustles to his room, followed closely by his tapper, or shakes his head (refusal). Each society picks 15. Tapping usually ends when the Battell Chapel clock strikes 6, but in 1936 Wolf's Head, turned down by 17 tappees, went on tapping long after dark to fill its quota. —Time Magazine,  The Tomb Exterior view of Skull and Bones, 64 High Street, New Haven, early 20th century The Skull & Bones Hall is otherwise known as the "Tomb". The architectural attribution of the original hall is in dispute. The architect was possibly Alexander Jackson Davis (1803–1892) orHenry Austin (1804–1891). Architectural historian Patrick Pinnell includes an in-depth discussion of the dispute over the identity of the original architect in his 1999 history of Yale's campus. The building was built in three phases: in 1856 the first wing was built, in 1903 the second wing, and in 1911, Davis-designed Neo-Gothic towers from a previous building were added at the rear garden. The front and side facades are of Portland brownstone and in an Egypto-Doric style. The 1911 additions of towers in the rear created a small enclosed courtyard in the rear of the building, designed by Evarts Tracy and Edgerton Swartwout, Tracy and Swartwout, New York. Evarts was not a Bonesman, but his paternal grandmother Martha Sherman Evarts and maternal grandmother Mary Evarts were the sisters of William Maxwell Evarts (S&B 1837). Pinnell speculates whether the re-use of the Davis towers in 1911 was evidence suggesting that Davis did the original building; conversely, Austin was responsible for the architecturally similar brownstone Egyptian Revival gates, built 1845, of the Grove Street Cemetery, to the north of campus. Also discussed by Pinnell is the "tomb's" aesthetic place in relation to its neighbors, including the Yale University Art Gallery. New Hampshire landscape architects Saucier & Flynn designed the wroughtiron fence that currently surrounds a portion of the complex in the late 1990s.Coordinates: 41.30857°N 72.930092°W Bonesmen Main article: List of Skull and Bones members Yearbook listing of Skull & Bones membership for 1920. The 1920 delegation included co-founders of Time magazine, Briton Hadden andHenry Luce Skull and Bones has developed a reputation with some as having a membership that is heavily tilted towards the "Power Elite". Regarding the qualifications for membership, Lanny Davis, writing in the 1968 Yale yearbook, wrote: If the society had a good year, this is what the "ideal" group will consist of: a football captain; a Chairman of the Yale Daily News; a conspicuous radical; a Whiffenpoof; a swimming captain; a notorious drunk with a 94 average; a film-maker; a political columnist; a religious group leader; a Chairman of the Lit; a foreigner; a ladies' man with two motorcycles; an ex-service man; a negro, if there are enough to go around; a guy nobody else in the group had heard of, ever ... " Like other Yale senior societies, for much of its history Skull and Bones membership was almost exclusively limited to white Protestant males. While Yale itself had exclusionary policies at various times during its history, the senior societies were even more exclusionary. Catholics had some success attaining membership in such groups; Jews less so. Sports was the means by which some of these excluded groups eventually entered Skull and Bones, through its practice of tapping standout athletes. Star football players were the first Jewish (Al Hessberg, class of 1938) and African-American (Levi Jackson, class of 1950, who turned down the invitation) students to be tapped for Skull and Bones. Yale became coeducational in 1969, yet Skull & Bones remained all-male until 1992. An attempt to tap women for membership by the Bones class of 1971 was opposed by Bones alumni, who dubbed them the "bad club" and quashed their attempt. "The issue", as it came to be called by Bonesmen, was debated for decades. The class of 1991 tapped seven female members for membership in the next year's class, causing conflict with their own alumni association, the Russell Trust. The Trust changed the locks on the "Tomb"; the Bonesmen had to meet at the building of Manuscript Society. A mail-in vote by members decided 368-320 to permit going co-ed, but a group of alumni led by William F. Buckley obtained a temporary restraining order to block the move, arguing that a formal change in bylaws was needed. Other alumni, such as John Kerry and R. Inslee Clark, Jr., spoke out in favor of admitting women, and the dispute even ended up on The New York Times editorial page. A second vote of alumni in October 1991 agreed to accept the Class of 1992, and the lawsuit was dropped. Like its counterparts, Bones has diversified further its membership, similarly with the other six landed societies at Yale. Although, members have noted that no longer do they simply represent the strongest leaders on campus. As one member of the 1991 class wrote to alumni, "Being a part of Bones is often an embarrassment, a source of ridicule and occasionally a good way to lose a friend ... Very rarely is the Bones still seen as an honor, and never is it seen to represent the mainstream of Yale." Judith Ann Schiff, Chief Research Archivist at the Yale University Library, has written: "The names of its members weren't kept secret — that was an innovation of the 1970s — but its meetings and practices were." While resourceful researchers could assemble member data from these original sources, in 1985 an anonymous source leaked rosters to Antony C. Sutton, who wrote a book on the group titled America's Secret Establishment: An Introduction to the Order of Skull & Bones. This membership information was kept privately for over 15 years, as Sutton feared that the photocopied pages could somehow identify the member who leaked it. The information was finally reformatted as an appendix in the book Fleshing out Skull and Bones, a compilation edited by Kris Millegan, published in 2003. Among prominent alumni are former President and Supreme Court Justice William Howard Taft (son of a founder of the society); former Presidents George H. W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush; Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart;  James Jesus Angleton, "mother of the Central Intelligence Agency"; Henry Stimson, U.S. Secretary of War (1940-1945); and United States Secretary of Defense, Robert A. Lovett, who directed the Korean War. Senator John Kerry; Stephen A. Schwarzman, founder of Blackstone; Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers; Harold Stanley, co-founder of Morgan Stanley; and Frederick W. Smith, founder of Fedex, are all reported to be members. Lore One legend is that 32 in the emblem of the society stands for "founded in '322, 2nd corps", referring to a first , 2nd corps", referring to a first 2nd corps", referring to a first in the emblem of the society stands for "founded in '322, 2nd corps", refer, 2nd corps", refer2nd corps", refer, 2nd corps", referring to a first Corps in an unknown German university. Others suggest that 322 refers to the death of Demosthenes and that documents in the society hall have purportedly been found dated to "Anno-Demostheni". There is an ongoing rumor that there is some form whereby new members recite to the society their sexual history, and although there has been no corroboration of this by any reliable source, the rumor lives on. Members are assigned nicknames. "Long Devil" is assigned to the tallest member; "Boaz" goes to any member who is a varsity football captain. Many of the chosen names are drawn from literature ("Hamlet", "Uncle Remus"), from religion and from myth. The banker Lewis Lapham passed on his nickname, "Sancho Panza", to the political adviser Tex McCrary. Averell Harriman was "Thor", Henry Luce was "Baal", McGeorge Bundy was "Odin", and George H. W. Bush was "Magog". In the 2004 U.S. Presidential election, both the Democratic and Republican nominees were alumni. George W. Bush wrote in his autobiography, "[In my] senior year I joined Skull and Bones, a secret society; so secret, I can't say anything more." When asked what it meant that he and Bush were both Bonesmen, former Presidential candidate John Kerry said, "Not much, because it's a secret." Each Skull and Bones class meets every Thursday and Sunday night during the senior year. Crooking Skull and Bones has a reputation for stealing keepsakes from other Yale societies or from campus buildings; society members reportedly call the practice "crooking" and strive to outdo each other's "crooks". The society has been accused of possessing the stolen skulls of Martin Van Buren, Geronimo, and Pancho Villa, but this has never been proven. Geronimo Main article: Geronimo#Alleged theft of skull Skull and Bones members supposedly stole the bones of Geronimo from Fort Sill, Oklahoma during World War I. In 1986, former San Carlos Apache Chairman Ned Anderson received an anonymous letter with a photograph and a copy of a log book claiming that Skull & Bones held the skull. He met with Skull & Bones officials about the rumor; the group's attorney, Endicott P. Davidson, denied that the group held the skull, and said that the 1918 ledger saying otherwise was a hoax. The group offered Anderson a glass case with what he believed was not the skull of Geronimo, but rather a skull of a ten-year-old boy, but Anderson refused it. In 2006, Marc Wortman discovered a 1918 letter from Skull & Bones member Winter Mead to F. Trubee Davison that claimed the skull was "exhumed" from Fort Sill by the club and was "safe" in the club's headquarters. In 2009, Ramsey Clark filed a lawsuit on behalf of people claiming to be Geronimo's descendants, against, among others, Barack Obama, Robert Gates, and Skull and Bones, asking for the return of Geronimo's bones. An article inThe New York Times states that Clark "acknowledged he had no hard proof that the story was true." Alexandra Robbins, author of a book on Skull and Bones, says this is one of the more plausible items said to be in the organization's Tomb. Cameron University history professor David H. Miller notes that Geronimo's grave was unmarked at the time. Investigations conducted by journalists such as Cecil Adams and Kitty Kelley have concluded this story is wrong. A Fort Sill spokesman told Adams, "There is no evidence to indicate the bones are anywhere but in the grave site."  Jeff Houser, chairman of the Fort Sill Apache tribe of Oklahoma, also calls the story a hoax. The 1918 letter "adds to the seriousness of the belief [that the theft took place], certainly," says Judith Schiff, the chief research archivist at Sterling Memorial Library, who has written extensively on Yale history. "It has a very strong likelihood of being true, since it was written so close to the time." She points out that Members of a secret society were required to be honest with each other about its affairs. The yearbook entries for Haffner, Mead, and Davison say that they were all Bonesmen. (The membership of the societies was routinely published in newspapers and yearbooks until the 1970s.) Haffner's entry says that he was at the artillery school at Fort Sill some time between August 1917 and July 1918. Pancho Villa Pancho Villa's skull has been alleged to have been stolen shortly after his death. While Robbins originally wrote in her book that the Bonesmen had the skull, she has since retracted the claim, saying that the story that the Bonesmen paid $25,000 for it in the 1920s is implausible. Writer Mark Singer, a Yale graduate, also rejects the story in a New Yorker article about the myth. Conspiracy theories Skull & Bones is a regular feature in many conspiracy theories, which claim that the society plays a role in a global conspiracy for world domination. It is true that some prominent families had one or more members as Bonesmen. The theorists such as Alexandra Robbins suggest that Skull & Bones is a branch of the Illuminati, or that Skull & Bones itself controls the Central Intelligence Agency; the conspiracy theorists relying on supposed personal connections and coincidences. Others who have written about Skull & Bones were economist Antony C. Sutton, who wrote a book on the group titled America's Secret Establishment: An Introduction to the Order of Skull & Bones. and Kris Millegan, who wrote a book on the society in 2003. References in fiction Skull and Bones has been satirized from time to time in the Doonesbury comic strips by Garry Trudeau, Yale graduate and member of Scroll and Key; especially in 1980 and December 1988, with reference to George H. W. Bush, and again at the time that the society went co-ed. In The Simpsons, the character Montgomery Burns attended Yale and was a member of Skull and Bones. Freemasonry From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Redirected from Freemasons) "Freemasons" redirects here. For other uses, see Freemasons (disambiguation). "Masonic" redirects here. For the ghost town in California, see Masonic, California. The Masonic Square and Compasses. (Found with or without the letter G) Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge of Scotland and Grand Lodge of Ireland, over a quarter of a million under the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of England and just under two million in the United States. The fraternity is administratively organised into independent Grand Lodges or sometimes Orients, each of which governs its own jurisdiction, which consists of subordinate (or constituent) Lodges. The various Grand Lodges recognise each other, or not, based upon adherence to landmarks (a Grand Lodge will usually deem other Grand Lodges who share common landmarks to beregular, and those that do not to be "irregular" or "clandestine"). There are also appendant bodies, which are organisations related to the main branch of Freemasonry, but with their own independent administration. History Main article: History of Freemasonry Goose and Gridiron, where the Grand Lodge of England was founded The origins and early development of Freemasonry are a matter of some debate and conjecture. A poem known as the "Regius Manuscript" has been dated to approximately 1390 and is the oldest known Masonic text. There is evidence to suggest that there were Masonic lodges in existence in Scotland as early as the late 16th century (for example the Lodge at Kilwinning, Scotland, has records that date to the late 16th century, and is mentioned in the Second Schaw Statutes (1599) which specified that "ye warden of ye lug of Kilwynning [...] tak tryall of ye airt of memorie and science yrof, of everie fellowe of craft and everie prenteiss according to ayr of yr vocations"). There are clear references to the existence of lodges in England by the mid-17th century. The first Grand Lodge, the Grand Lodge of England (GLE), was founded on 24 June 1717, when four existing London Lodges met for a joint dinner. This rapidly expanded into a regulatory body, which most English Lodges joined. However, a few lodges resented some of the modernisations that GLE endorsed, such as the creation of the Third Degree, and formed a rival Grand Lodge on 17 July 1751, which they called the "Antient Grand Lodge of England." The two competing Grand Lodges vied for supremacy – the "Moderns" (GLE) and the "Antients" (or "Ancients") – until they united on 25 November 1813 to form the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE). The Grand Lodge of Ireland and The Grand Lodge of Scotland were formed in 1725 and 1736 respectively. Freemasonry was exported to the British Colonies in North America by the 1730s – with both the "Antients" and the "Moderns" (as well as the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland) chartering offspring, or "daughter," Lodges, and organising various Provincial Grand Lodges. After the American Revolution, independent U.S. Grand Lodges formed themselves within each state. Some thought was briefly given to organising an over- arching "Grand Lodge of the United States," with George Washington (who was a member of a Virginian lodge) as the first Grand Master, but the idea was short-lived. The various state Grand Lodges did not wish to diminish their own authority by agreeing to such a body. Although there are no real differences in the Freemasonry practised by lodges chartered by the Antients or the Moderns, the remnants of this division can still be seen in the names of most Lodges, F.& A.M. being Free and Accepted Masons and A.F.& A.M. being Antient Free and Accepted Masons. View of room at the Masonic Hall, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England, early 20th century The oldest jurisdiction on the continent of Europe, the Grand Orient de France (GOdF), was founded in 1733. However, most English-speaking jurisdictions cut formal relations with the GOdF around 1877, when (following the Lausanne Congress of 1875) the GOdF removed the requirement that its members have a belief in a Deity. The Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) is currently the only French Grand Lodge that is in regular amity with the UGLE and its many concordant jurisdictions worldwide. Due to the above history, Freemasonry is often said to consist of two branches not in mutual regular amity: the UGLE and concordant tradition of jurisdictions (mostly termed Grand Lodges) in amity, and the GOdF, European Continental, tradition of jurisdictions (often termed Grand Orients) in amity. In most Latin countries, the GOdF-style of European Continental Freemasonry predominates, although in most of these Latin countries there are also Grand Lodges that are inregular amity with the UGLE and the worldwide community of Grand Lodges that share regular "fraternal relations" with the UGLE. The rest of the world, accounting for the bulk of Freemasonry, tends to follow more closely to the UGLE style, although minor variations exist. Organisational structure Freemasons Hall, London, home of theUnited Grand Lodge of England. Main article: Grand Lodge Grand Lodges and Grand Orients are independent and sovereign bodies that govern Masonry in a given country, state, or geographical area (termed a jurisdiction). There is no single overarching governing body that presides over worldwide Freemasonry; connections between different jurisdictions depend solely on mutual recognition. Regularity Main article: Regular Masonic jurisdictions Regularity is a constitutional mechanism whereby Grand Lodges or Grand Orients give one another mutual recognition. This recognition allows formal interaction at the Grand Lodge level, and gives individual Freemasons the opportunity to attend Lodge meetings in other recognised jurisdictions. Conversely, regularity proscribes interaction with Lodges that are irregular. A Mason who visits an irregular Lodge may have his membership suspended for a time, or he may be expelled. For this reason, all Grand Lodges maintain lists of other jurisdictions and lodges they consider regular. Grand Lodges and Grand Orients that afford mutual recognition and allow intervisitation are said to be in amity. As far as the UGLE is concerned, regularity is predicated upon adherence to a number of fundamental principals (known as Landmarks), set down in the UGLE Constitution and the Constitutions of those Grand Lodges with which they are in amity. Even within this definition there are some variations with the quantity and content of the Landmarks from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Other Masonic groups organise differently. Each of the two major branches of Freemasonry considers the Lodges within its branch to be "regular" and those in the other branch to be "irregular." As the UGLE branch is significantly larger, however, the various Grand Lodges and Grand Orients in amity with UGLE are commonly referred to as being "regular" (or "Mainstream") Masonry, while those Grand Lodges and Grand Orients in amity with GOdF are commonly referred to "liberal" or "irregular" Masonry. (The issue is complicated by the fact that the usage of "Lodge" versus "Orient" alone is not an indicator of which branch a body belongs to, and thus not an indication of regularity). The term "irregular" is also universally applied to various self created bodies that call themselves "Masonic" but are not recognised by either of the main branches. Masonic Lodge Main article: Masonic Lodge A Lodge (often termed a Private Lodge or Constituent Lodge in Masonic constitutions) is the basic organisational unit of Freemasonry. Every new Lodge must have a Warrant or Charter issued by a Grand Lodge, authorising it to meet and work. Except for the very few "time immemorial" Lodges pre-dating the formation of a Grand Lodge, masons who meet as a Lodge without displaying this document (for example, in prisoner-of-war camps) are deemed "Clandestine" and irregular. A Lodge must hold regular meetings at a fixed place and published dates. It will elect, initiate and promote its members and officers; it will build up and manage its property and assets, including its minutes and records; and it may own, occupy or share its premises. Like any organisation, it will have formal business to manage its meetings and proceedings, annual general meetings and committees, charity funds, correspondence and reports, membership and subscriptions, accounts and tax returns, special events and catering, and so forth. The balance of activities is individual to each Lodge, and under their common constitutions and forms of procedure, Lodges evolve very distinctive traditions. A man can only be initiated, or made a Mason, in a Lodge, of which he may often remain a subscribing member for life. A Master Mason can generally visit any Lodge meeting under any jurisdiction in amity with his own, and as well as the formal meeting, a Lodge may well offer hospitality. A visitor should first check the regularity of that Lodge, and must be able to satisfy that Lodge of his own regularity; and he may be refused admission if adjudged likely to disrupt the harmony of the Lodge. If he wishes to visit the same Lodge repeatedly, he may be expected to join it and pay a subscription. This plaque commemorates a 'formal' fraternal visit by NIRMAS, the Masonic association for members of the Royal Australian Navy, that originally started at the Apprentice Training Base, HMAS Nirimba, hence the name. The plaque is styled after the ship's badge for the Navy. The visit was to Lodge GundagaiUnited, No.25. Most Lodges consist of Freemasons living or working within a given town or neighbourhood. Other Lodges are composed of Masons with a particular shared interest, profession or background. Shared schools, universities, military units, Masonic appointments or degrees, arts, professions and hobbies have all been the qualifications for such Lodges. In some Lodges, the foundation and name may now be only of historic interest, as over time the membership evolves beyond that envisaged by its "founding brethren"; in others, the membership remains exclusive. There are also specialist Lodges of Research, with membership drawn from Master Masons only, with interests in Masonic Research (of history, philosophy, etc.). Lodges of Research are fully warranted but, generally, do not initiate new candidates. Lodges of Instruction in UGLE may be warranted by any ordinary Lodge for the learning and rehearsal of Masonic Ritual. Freemasons correctly meet as a Lodge, not in a Lodge, the word "Lodge" referring more to the people assembled than the place of assembly. However, in common usage, Masonic premises are often referred to as "Lodges". Masonic buildings are also sometimes called "Temples" ("of Philosophy and the Arts"). In many countries, Masonic Centre or Hall has replaced Temple to avoid arousing prejudice and suspicion. Several different Lodges, as well as other Masonic or non-Masonic organisations, often use the same premises at different times. According to Masonic tradition, medieval European stonemasons would meet, eat, and shelter outside working hours in a Lodge on the southern side of a building site, where the sun warms the stones during the day. The social Festive Board (or Social Board) part of the meeting is thus sometimes called the South. Early Lodges often met in a tavern or any other convenient fixed place with a private room. Lodge Officers Main article: Masonic Lodge Officers Every Masonic Lodge elects certain officers to execute the necessary functions of the lodge's work. The Worshipful Master (essentially the lodge President) is always an elected officer. Most jurisdictions will also elect the Senior and Junior Wardens (Vice Presidents), the Secretary and the Treasurer. All lodges will have a Tyler, or Tiler, (who guards the door to the lodge room while the lodge is in session), sometimes elected and sometimes appointed by the Master. In addition to these elected officers, lodges will have various appointed officers – such as Deacons, Stewards, and a Chaplain (appointed to lead a non-denominational prayer at the convocation of meetings or activities – often, but not necessarily, a clergyman). The specific offices and their functions vary between jurisdictions. Many offices are replicated at the Provincial and Grand Lodge levels with the addition of the word 'Grand' somewhere in the title. For example, where every lodge has a 'Junior Warden', Grand Lodges have a 'Grand Junior Warden' (or sometimes 'Junior Grand Warden'). Additionally, there are a number of offices that exist only at the Grand Lodge level. Prince Hall Freemasonry Main article: Prince Hall Freemasonry Prince Hall Freemasonry derives from historical events in the early United States that led to a tradition of separate, predominantly African-American Freemasonry in North America. In 1775, an African-American named Prince Hall was initiated into an Irish Constitution military Lodge then in Boston, Massachusetts, along with fourteen other African-Americans, all of whom were free-born. When the military Lodge left North America, those fifteen men were given the authority to meet as a Lodge, form Processions on the days of the Saints John, and conduct Masonic funerals, but not to confer degrees, nor to do other Masonic work. In 1784, these individuals applied for, and obtained, a Lodge Warrant from the Premier Grand Lodge of England (GLE) and formed African Lodge, Number 459. When the UGLE was formed in 1813, all U.S.-based Lodges were stricken from their rolls – due largely to the War of 1812. Thus, separated from both UGLE and any concordantly recognised U.S. Grand Lodge, African Lodge re-titled itself as the African Lodge, Number 1 – and became a de facto "Grand Lodge" (this Lodge is not to be confused with the various Grand Lodges on the Continent of Africa). As with the rest of U.S. Freemasonry, Prince Hall Freemasonry soon grew and organised on a Grand Lodge system for each state. Widespread segregation in 19th- and early 20th-century North America made it difficult for African-Americans to join Lodges outside of Prince Hall jurisdictions – and impossible for inter-jurisdiction recognition between the parallel U.S. Masonic authorities. Prince Hall Masonry has always been regular in all respects except constitutional separation, and this separation has diminished in recent years. At present, Prince Hall Grand Lodges are recognised by some UGLE Concordant Grand Lodges and not by others, but they appear to be working toward full recognition, with UGLE granting at least some degree of recognition. There are a growing number of both Prince Hall Lodges and non-Prince Hall Lodges that have ethnically diverse membership. Other degrees, orders and bodies Main article: Masonic appendant bodies There is no degree in Freemasonry higher than that of Master Mason, the Third Degree.  There are, however, a number of organisations that require being a Master Mason as a prerequisite for membership. These bodies have no authority over the Craft. These orders or degrees may be described as additional or appendant, and often provide a further perspective on some of the allegorical, moral and philosophical content of Freemasonry. Appendant bodies are administered separately from Craft Grand Lodges but are styled Masonic since every member must be a Mason. However, Craft Masonic jurisdictions vary in their relationships with such bodies, if a relationship exists at all. The Articles of Union of the "Modern" and "Antient" craft Grand Lodges (into UGLE in 1813) limited recognition to certain degrees, such as the Royal Arch and the "chivalric degrees", but there were and are many other degrees that have been worked since before the Union. Some bodies are not universally considered to be appendant bodies, but rather separate organisations that happen to require prior Masonic affiliation for membership. Some of these organisations have additional requirements, such as religious adherence (e.g., requiring members to profess Trinitarian Christian beliefs) or membership of other bodies. Quite apart from these, there are organisations that are often thought of as being related to Freemasonry, but which have no formal or informal connections with Freemasonry. These include such organisations as the Orange Order, which originated in Ireland, the Knights of Pythias, or the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Principles and activities While Freemasonry has often been called a "secret society," Freemasons themselves argue that it is more correct to say that it is an esoteric society, in that certain aspects are private. The most common phrasing is that Freemasonry has, in the 21st century, become less a secret society and more of a "society with secrets." The private aspects of modern Freemasonry are the modes of recognition amongst members and particular elements within the ritual. Despite the organisation's great diversity, Freemasonry's central preoccupations remain charitable work within a local or wider community, moral uprightness (in most cases requiring a belief in a supreme being) as well as the development and maintenance of fraternal friendship, as James Anderson's Constitutions originally urged amongst brethren. Ritual, symbolism, and morality Masons conduct their meetings using a ritualised format. There is no single Masonic ritual, and each jurisdiction is free to set (or not set) its own ritual. However, there are similarities that exist among jurisdictions. For example, all Masonic ritual makes use of the architectural symbolism of the tools of the medieval operative stonemason. Freemasons, as speculative masons (meaning philosophical building rather than actual building), use this symbolism to teach moral and ethical lessons of the principles of "Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth;" or as related in France, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity." The Square and Compasses carved into stone Two of the principal symbolic tools always found in a Lodge are the square and compasses. Some Lodges and rituals explain these tools as lessons in conduct: for example, that Masons should "square their actions by the square of virtue" and to learn to "circumscribe their desires and keep their passions within due bounds toward all mankind." However, as Freemasonry is non-dogmatic, there is no general interpretation for these tools (or any Masonic emblem) that is used by Freemasonry as a whole. These moral lessons are communicated in performance of allegorical ritual. A candidate progresses through degrees gaining knowledge and understanding of himself, his relationship with others and his relationship with the Supreme Being (per his own interpretation). While the philosophical aspects of Freemasonry tend to be discussed in Lodges of Instruction or Research, and sometimes informal groups, Freemasons, and others, frequently publish, with varying degrees of competence, studies that are available to the public. Any mason may speculate on the symbols and purpose of Freemasonry, and indeed all masons are required to some extent to speculate on masonic meaning as a condition of advancing through the degrees. There is no one accepted meaning, and no one person "speaks" for the whole of Freemasonry. Some lodges make use of tracing boards. These are painted or printed illustrations depicting the various symbolic emblems of Freemasonry. They can be used as teaching aids during the lectures that follow each of the three Degrees, when an experienced member explains the various concepts of Freemasonry to new members. They can also be used by experienced members as self-reminders of the concepts they learned as they went through their initiations. Freemasonry uses the metaphors of operative stonemasons' tools and implements, against the allegorical backdrop of the building of King Solomon's Temple, to convey what has been described by both Masons and critics as "a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." The Supreme Being and the Volume of Sacred Law Candidates for regular Freemasonry are required to declare a belief in a Supreme Being. However, the candidate is not asked to expand on, or explain, his interpretation of Supreme Being. The discussion of politics and religion is forbidden within a Masonic Lodge, in part so a Mason will not be placed in the situation of having to justify his personal interpretation. Thus, reference to the Supreme Being can mean the Christian Trinity to a Christian Mason, Allah to a Muslim Mason, Para Brahman to a Hindu Mason, etc. While most Freemasons would take the view that the term Supreme Being equates to God, others may hold a more complex or philosophical interpretation of the term. In the ritual, the Supreme Being is referred to as the Great Architect of the Universe, which alludes to the use of architectural symbolism within Freemasonry. A Volume of the Sacred Law is always displayed in an open Lodge in those jurisdictions which require a belief in the Supreme Being. In English-speaking countries, this is frequently the King James Version of the Bible or another standard translation; there is no such thing as an exclusive "Masonic Bible." Furthermore, a candidate is given his choice of religious text for his Obligation, according to his beliefs. UGLE alludes to similarities to legal practice in the UK, and to a common source with other oath taking processes. In Lodges with a membership of mixed religions it is common to find more than one sacred text displayed. In lodges that follow the Continental tradition other texts may be used, including texts that are non-religious in nature. Degrees In the 19th century, certificates such as this were commonly issued to Masons to show that they had taken the three degrees of Craft Masonry in a regular lodge The three degrees of Craft or Blue Lodge Freemasonry are those of: 1. Entered Apprentice – the degree of an Initiate, which makes one a Freemason; 2. Fellow Craft – an intermediate degree, involved with learning; and 3. Master Mason – the "third degree", a necessity for participation in most aspects of Masonry. The degrees represent stages of personal development. No Freemason is told that there is only one meaning to the allegories; as a Freemason works through the degrees and studies their lessons, he interprets them for himself, his personal interpretation being bounded only by the Constitution within which he works. A common symbolic structure and universal archetypes provide a means for each Freemason to come to his own answers to life's important philosophical questions. There is no degree of Craft Freemasonry higher than that of Master Mason. Although some Masonic bodies and orders have further degrees named with higher numbers, these degrees may be considered to be supplements to the Master Mason degree rather than promotions from it. An example is the Scottish Rite, conferring degrees numbered from 4° up to 33°. It is essential to be a Master Mason in order to qualify for these further degrees. They are administered on a parallel system to Craft or Blue Lodge Freemasonry; within each organisation there is a system of offices, which confer rank within that degree or order alone. In some jurisdictions, especially those in continental Europe, Freemasons working through the degrees may be asked to prepare papers on related philosophical topics, and present these papers in open Lodge. There is an enormous bibliography of Masonic papers, magazines and publications ranging from fanciful abstractions which construct spiritual and moral lessons of varying value, through practical handbooks on organisation, management and ritual performance, to serious historical and philosophical papers entitled to academic respect. Signs, grips and words Freemasons use signs (gestures), grips or tokens (handshakes) and words to gain admission to meetings and identify legitimate visitors. Many exposés, revealing these signs grips and passwords to the uninitiated, have been written over the years (the earliest appeared in the eighteenth century). The fraternity responded in different ways. One response, made by many Masonic jurisdictions, was to deliberately transpose certain words in the ritual, so as to catch out anyone relying on an exposé. Other Grand Lodges simply chose new signs, grips and passwords. Since each Grand Lodge is free to create its own rituals, the signs, grips and passwords can and do differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Furthermore, Grand Lodges can and do change their rituals periodically, updating the language used, adding or omitting sections. Therefore, any exposé can only be valid for a particular jurisdiction at a particular time, and is always difficult for an outsider to verify. Today, an unknown visitor may be required to produce a certificate, dues card or other documentation of membership in addition to demonstrating knowledge of the signs, grips and passwords. Obligations Obligations are those elements of ritual in which a candidate swears to abide by the rules of the fraternity, to keep the "secrets of Freemasonry" (which are the various signs, tokens and words associated with recognition in each degree), and to act towards others in accordance with Masonic tradition and law. In regular jurisdictions these obligations are sworn on the aforementioned Volume of the Sacred Law and in the witness of the Supreme Being and often with assurance that it is of the candidate's own free will. Details of the obligations vary; some versions are published while others are privately printed in books of coded text. Still other jurisdictions rely on oral transmission of ritual, and thus have no ritual books at all. Moreover, not all printed rituals are authentic – Léo Taxil's exposure, for example, is a proven hoax, while Duncan's Masonic Monitor (created, in part, by merging elements of several rituals then in use) was never adopted by any regular jurisdiction. Whilst no single obligation is representative of Freemasonry as a whole, a number of common themes appear when considering a range of potential texts. Content which may appear in at least one of the three obligations includes: the candidate promises to act in a manner befitting a member of civilised society, promises to obey the law of his Supreme Being, promises to obey the law of his sovereign state, promises to attend his lodge if he is able, promises not to wrong, cheat nor defraud the Lodge or the brethren, and promises aid or charity to a member of the human family, brethren and their families in times of need if it can be done without causing financial harm to himself or his dependents. The obligations are historically known amongst various sources critical of Freemasonry for their so-called "bloody penalties," an allusion to the apparent physical penalties associated with each degree. This leads to some descriptions of the Obligations as "Oaths". The corresponding text, with regard to the penalties, does not appear in authoritative, endorsed sources, following a decision "that all references to physical penalties be omitted from the obligations taken by Candidates in the three Degrees and by a Master Elect at his Installation but retained elsewhere in the respective ceremonies." The penalties are interpreted symbolically, and are not applied in actuality by a Lodge or by any other body of Masonry. The descriptive nature of the penalties alludes to how the candidate should feel about himself should he knowingly violate his obligation. Modern actual penalties may include suspension, expulsion or reprimand. Landmarks Main article: Masonic Landmarks The Landmarks of Masonry are defined as ancient and unchangeable principles; standards by which the regularity of Lodges and Grand Lodges are judged. Each Grand Lodge is self-governing and no single authority exists over the whole of Freemasonry. The interpretation of these principles therefore can and does vary, leading to controversies of recognition. The concept of Masonic Landmarks appears in Masonic regulations as early as 1723, and seems to be adopted from the regulations of operative masonic guilds. In 1858, Albert G. Mackey attempted to set down 25 Landmarks. In 1863, George Oliver published a Freemason's Treasury in which he listed 40 Landmarks. A number of American Grand Lodges have attempted the task of enumerating the Landmarks; numbers differing from West Virginia (7) and New Jersey (10) to Nevada (39) and Kentucky (54). Charitable effort The fraternity is widely involved in charity and community service activities. In contemporary times, money is collected only from the membership, and is to be devoted to charitable purposes. Freemasonry worldwide disburses substantial charitable amounts to non-Masonic charities, locally, nationally and internationally. In earlier centuries, however, charitable funds were collected more on the basis of a Provident or Friendly Society, and there were elaborate regulations to determine a petitioner's eligibility for consideration for charity, according to strictly Masonic criteria. Some examples of Masonic charities include: Homes that provide sheltered housing or nursing care. Education with both educational grants or schools such as the Royal Masonic School (UK) which are open to all and not limited to the families of Freemasons. Medical assistance. Masonic Child Identification Programs (CHIP). In addition to these, there are thousands of philanthropic organisations around the world created by Freemasons. The Masonic Service Association, the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory, and the Shriners Hospitals for Children are especially notable charitable endeavours that Masons have founded and continue to support both intellectually and monetarily. Membership requirements Freemasonry initiation. 18th century Contrary to common misconception, joining Freemasonry is not by invitation only. In fact, in many jurisdictions, the brothers of the lodge are not allowed to ask potential candidates to join (in these jurisdictions, the brethren must wait for the potential candidate to inquire). Other jurisdictions allow for varying degrees of solicitation. However the initial introduction is made, the official process of becoming a Mason begins when a candidate for Freemasonry formally petitions a lodge. The brethren will then investigate the candidate, to assure themselves of his good character, and hold a secret ballot election (often using an old fashioned ballot box). The number of adverse votes needed to reject a candidate varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction (in some, one "black ball" is enough to reject, in others up to three are required). General requirements Generally, to be accepted for initiation as a regular Freemason, a candidate must: Be a man who comes of his own free will. Believe in a Supreme Being (the form of which is left to open interpretation by the candidate). Be at least the minimum age (from 18–25 years old depending on the jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions the son of a Mason, known as a "Lewis," may join at an earlier age than others). Be of good morals, and of good reputation. Be of sound mind and body (lodges had in the past denied membership to a man because of a physical disability; however, now, if a potential candidate says a disability will not cause problems, it will not be held against him). Be free-born (or "born free", i.e., not born a slave or bondsman). As with the previous, this is entirely an historical holdover, and can be interpreted in the same manner as it is in the context of being entitled to write a will. Some jurisdictions have removed this requirement. Be capable of furnishing character references, as well as one or two references from current Masons, depending on jurisdiction. Some Grand Lodges in the United States have an additional residence requirement, candidates being expected to have lived within the jurisdiction for a certain period of time, typically six months. Having been elected and initiated, a member may subsequently resign from membership if he so desires. Additionally, the fraternity may either suspend or expel a member for cause. Membership and religion Freemasonry explicitly and openly states that it is neither a religion nor a substitute for one. "There is no separate Masonic God", nor a separate proper name for a deity in any branch of Freemasonry. Regular Freemasonry requires that its candidates believe in a Supreme Being, but the interpretation of this term is subject to the conscience of the candidate. Consequently, Freemasonry accepts men from a range of faiths, including (but not limited to) Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism. As a result, Freemasonry uses Volume of the Sacred Law (VSL) as a generic term for a religious book. As UGLE-based Freemasonry also requires that a VSL be present on the Altar, many Lodges have multiple VSLs available, and a candidate can be obligated on his book of choice. Since the early 19th century, in the irregular Continental European tradition (meaning irregular to those Grand Lodges in amity with the United Grand Lodge of England), a very broad interpretation has been given to a nondogmatic Supreme Being; in the tradition of Baruch Spinoza and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – or views of The Ultimate Cosmic Oneness – along with Western atheistic idealism and agnosticism. The form of Freemasonry most common in Scandinavia, known as the Swedish Rite, accepts only Christians. Freemasonry and women Main articles: Freemasonry and women and Co-Freemasonry Since the adoption of Anderson's constitution in 1723, it has been accepted as fact by regular Masons that only men can be made Masons. Most Grand Lodges do not admit women because they believe it would violate the ancient Landmarks. While a few women, such as Elizabeth Aldworth, were initiated into British speculative lodges prior to 1723, officially regular Freemasonry remains exclusive to men. While women cannot join regular lodges, there are (mainly within the borders of the United States) many female orders associated with regular Freemasonry and its appendant bodies, such as the Order of the Eastern Star, the Order of the Amaranth, the White Shrine of Jerusalem, the Social Order of Beauceant and the Daughters of the Nile. These have their own rituals and traditions, but are founded on the Masonic model. In the French context, women in the 18th and 19th centuries had been admitted into what were known as "adoption lodges" in which they could participate in ritual life. However, men clearly saw this type of adoption Freemasonry as distinct from their exclusively male variety. Since the late 19th century, mixed gender lodges have met in France. In addition, there are many non-mainstream Masonic bodies that do admit both men and women or are exclusively for women. Co-Freemasonry admits both men and women, but it is held to be irregular because it admits women. The systematic admission of women into International Co-Freemasonry began in France in 1882. In more recent times, women have created and maintained separate Lodges, working the same rituals as the all male regular lodges. These Female Masons have founded lodges around the world, and these Lodges continue to gain membership. Opposition to and criticism of Freemasonry Main article: Anti-Masonry See also: Masonic conspiracy theories Anti-Masonry (alternatively called Anti-Freemasonry) has been defined as "opposition to Freemasonry." However, there is no homogeneous anti-Masonic movement. Anti-Masonry consists of widely differing criticisms from diverse (and often incompatible) groups who are hostile to Freemasonry in some form. Critics have included religious groups, political groups, and conspiracy theorists. There have been many disclosures and exposés dating as far back as the 18th century. These often lack context, may be outdated for various reasons, or could be outright hoaxes on the part of the author, as in the case of theTaxil hoax. These hoaxes and exposés have often become the basis for criticism of Masonry, often religious or political in nature (usually by totalitarian dictatorial regimes, but also arising in the historical Anti-Masonic Party in the United States), or are based on suspicion of corrupt conspiracy of some form. The political opposition that arose after the "Morgan Affair" in 1826 gave rise to the term "Anti-Masonry," which is still in use today, both by Masons in referring to their critics and as a self-descriptor by the critics themselves. Religious opposition Freemasonry has attracted criticism from theocratic states and organised religions for supposed competition with religion, or supposed heterodoxy within the Fraternity itself, and has long been the target of conspiracy theories, which assert Freemasonry to be an occult and evil power. Christianity and Freemasonry Main article: Opposition to Freemasonry within Christianity Although members of various faiths cite objections, certain Christian denominations have had high profile negative attitudes to Masonry, banning or discouraging their members from being Freemasons. The denomination with the longest history of objection to Freemasonry is the Roman Catholic Church. The objections raised by the Roman Catholic Church are based on the allegation that Masonry teaches a naturalistic deistic religion which is in conflict with Church doctrine. A number of Papal pronouncements have been issued against Freemasonry. The first was Pope Clement XII's In Eminenti, 28 April 1738; the most recent was Pope Leo XIII's Ab Apostolici, 15 October 1890. The 1917 Code of Canon Law explicitly declared that joining Freemasonry entailed automatic excommunication. The 1917 Code of Canon Law also forbade books friendly to Freemasonry. In 1983, the Church issued a new Code of Canon Law. Unlike its predecessor, it did not explicitly name Masonic orders among the secret societies it condemns. It states in part: "A person who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty; one who promotes or takes office in such an association is to be punished with an interdict." This named omission of Masonic orders caused both Catholics and Freemasons to believe that the ban on Catholics becoming Freemasons may have been lifted, especially after the perceived liberalisation of Vatican II. However, the matter was clarified when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a Declaration on Masonic Associations, which states: "... the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion." Thus, from a Catholic perspective, there is still a ban on Catholics joining Masonic Lodges. For its part, Freemasonry has never objected to Catholics joining their fraternity. Those Grand Lodges in amity with UGLE deny the Church's claims and state that they explicitly adhere to the principle that "Freemasonry is not a religion, nor a substitute for religion." In contrast to Catholic allegations of rationalism and naturalism, Protestant objections are more likely to be based on allegations of mysticism, occultism, and even Satanism. Masonic scholar Albert Pike is often quoted (in some cases misquoted) by Protestant anti-Masons as an authority for the position of Masonry on these issues. However, Pike, although undoubtedly learned, was not a spokesman for Freemasonry and was controversial among Freemasons in general, representing his personal opinion only, and furthermore an opinion grounded in the attitudes and understandings of late 19th century Southern Freemasonry of the USA alone. Indeed his book carries in the preface a form of disclaimer from his own Grand Lodge. No one voice has ever spoken for the whole of Freemasonry. Free Methodist Church founder B.T. Roberts was a vocal opponent of Freemasonry in the mid 19th century. Roberts opposed the society on moral grounds and stated, "The god of the lodge is not the God of the Bible." Roberts believed Freemasonry was a "mystery" or "alternate" religion and encouraged his church not to support ministers who were Freemasons. Freedom from secret societies is one of the "frees" the Free Methodist Church was founded upon. Since the founding of Freemasonry, many Bishops of the Church of England have been Freemasons, such as Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher. In the past, few members of the Church of England would have seen any incongruity in concurrently adhering to Anglican Christianity and practicing Freemasonry. In recent decades, however, reservations about Freemasonry have increased within Anglicanism, perhaps due to the increasing prominence of the evangelical wing of the church. The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, appears to harbour some reservations about Masonic ritual, whilst being anxious to avoid causing offence to Freemasons inside and outside the Church of England. In 2003 he felt it necessary to apologise to British Freemasons after he said that their beliefs were incompatible with Christianity and that he had barred the appointment of Freemasons to senior posts in his diocese when he was Bishop of Monmouth. In 1933, the Orthodox Church of Greece officially declared that being a Freemason constitutes an act of apostasy and thus, until he repents, the person involved with Freemasonry cannot partake of the Eucharist. This has been generally affirmed throughout the whole Orthodox Church. The Orthodox critique of Freemasonry agrees with both the Roman Catholic and Protestant versions: "Freemasonry cannot be at all compatible with Christianity as far as it is a secret organization, acting and teaching in mystery and secret and deifying rationalism." Regular Freemasonry has traditionally not responded to these claims, beyond the often repeated statement that those Grand Lodges in amity with UGLE explicitly adhere to the principle that "Freemasonry is not a religion, nor a substitute for religion. There is no separate 'Masonic deity,' and there is no separate proper name for a deity in Freemasonry." In recent years, however, this has begun to change. Many Masonic websites and publications address these criticisms specifically. Islam and Freemasonry Many Islamic anti-Masonic arguments are closely tied to both Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism, though other criticisms are made such as linking Freemasonry to Dajjal. Some Muslim anti-Masons argue that Freemasonry promotes the interests of the Jews around the world and that one of its aims is to rebuild the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem after destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque. In article 28 of its Covenant, Hamas states that Freemasonry,Rotary, and other similar groups "work in the interest of Zionism and according to its instructions ..." Many countries with a significant Muslim population do not allow Masonic establishments within their jurisdictions. However, countries such as Turkey and Morocco have established Grand Lodges, while in countries such as Malaysia and Lebanon there are District Grand Lodges operating under a warrant from an established Grand Lodge. In Pakistanin 1972 Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, then Prime Minister of Pakistan, placed a ban on Freemasonry and confiscated all the literature. The lodges were then disbanded. Masonic lodges existed in Iraq as early as 1919, when the first lodge under the UGLE was opened in Basra, and later on when the country was under British Mandate just after the First World War. However the position changed in July 1958 following the Revolution, with the abolition of the Monarchy and Iraq being declared a republic, under General Qasim. The licences permitting lodges to meet were rescinded and later laws were introduced banning any further meetings. This position was later reinforced underSaddam Hussein, the death penalty was "prescribed" for those who "promote or acclaim Zionist principles, including freemasonry, or who associate [themselves] with Zionist organisations." Political opposition See also: Anti-Masonry and Suppression of Freemasonry Regular Freemasonry has in its core ritual a formal obligation: to be quiet and peaceable citizens, true to the lawful government of the country in which they live, and not to countenance disloyalty or rebellion. A Freemason makes a further obligation, before being made Master of his Lodge, to pay a proper respect to the civil magistrates. The words may be varied across Grand Lodges, but the sense in the obligation taken is always there. Nevertheless, much of the political opposition to Freemasonry is based upon the idea that Masonry will foment (or sometimes prevent) rebellion. In 1799 English Freemasonry almost came to a halt due to Parliamentary proclamation. In the wake of the French Revolution, the Unlawful Societies Act, 1799 banned any meetings of groups that required their members to take an oathor obligation. The Grand Masters of both the Moderns and the Antients Grand Lodges called on the Prime Minister William Pitt (who was not a Freemason) and explained to him that Freemasonry was a supporter of the law and lawfully constituted authority and was much involved in charitable work. As a result Freemasonry was specifically exempted from the terms of the Act, provided that each Private Lodge's Secretary placed with the local "Clerk of the Peace" a list of the members of his Lodge once a year. This continued until 1967 when the obligation of the provision was rescinded by Parliament. Freemasonry in the United States faced political pressure following the disappearance of William Morgan in 1826. Reports of the "Morgan Affair," together with opposition to Jacksonian democracy (Andrew Jackson was a prominent Mason) helped fuel an Anti-Masonic movement, culminating in the formation of a short lived AntiMasonic Party which fielded candidates for the Presidential elections of 1828 and 1832. In Italy, Freemasonry has become linked to a scandal concerning the Propaganda Due Lodge (aka P2). This lodge was chartered by the Grande Oriente d'Italia in 1877, as a lodge for visiting Masons unable to attend their own lodges. Under Licio Gelli’s leadership, in the late 1970s, the P2 Lodge became involved in the financial scandals that nearly bankrupted the Vatican Bank. However, by this time the lodge was operating independently and irregularly; as the Grand Orient had revoked its charter in 1976. By 1982 the scandal became public knowledge and Gelli was formally expelled from Freemasonry. Conspiracy theorists have long associated Freemasonry with the New World Order and the Illuminati, and state that Freemasonry as an organisation is either bent on world domination or already secretly in control of world politics. Historically, Freemasonry has attracted criticism – and suppression – from both the politically extreme right (e.g. Nazi Germany) and the extreme left (e.g. the former Communist states in Eastern Europe). The fraternity has met with approval for supposedly founding, and opposition for supposedly thwarting, liberal democracy (such as in the United States of America). Even in modern democracies, Freemasonry is sometimes viewed with distrust. In the UK, Masons working in the justice system, such as judges and police officers, were from 1999 to 2009 required to disclose their membership.While a parliamentary inquiry found that there has been no evidence of wrongdoing, it was felt that any potential loyalties Masons might have, based on their vows to support fellow Masons, should be transparent to the public.The policy of requiring a declaration of masonic membership of applicants for judicial office (judges and magistrates) was ended in 2009 by Justice Secretary Jack Straw (who had initiated the requirement in the 1990s). Straw stated that the rule was considered disproportionate, since no impropriety or malpractice had been shown as a result of judges being Freemasons. The rescinding of the rule did not change the disclosure requirements for police officers. Freemasonry is both successful and controversial in France; membership is rising, but reporting in the popular media is often negative. In some countries anti-Masonry is often related to anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. For example, In 1980, the Iraqi legal and penal code was changed by Saddam Hussein's ruling Ba'ath Party, making it a felony to "promote or acclaim Zionist principles, including Freemasonry, or who associate [themselves] with Zionist organisations." Professor Andrew Prescott of the University of Sheffield writes: "Since at least the time of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, anti-semitism has gone hand in hand with anti-masonry, so it is not surprising that allegations that 11 September was a Zionist plot have been accompanied by suggestions that the attacks were inspired by a masonic world order." Forget-me-not The Holocaust Main article: The Holocaust See also: Freemasonry under authoritarian regimes and Liberté chérie (Freemasonry) The preserved records of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (the Reich Security Main Office) show the persecution of Freemasons. RSHA Amt VII (Written Records) was overseen by ProfessorFranz Six and was responsible for "ideological" tasks, by which was meant the creation of anti-Semitic and anti-Masonic propaganda. While the number is not accurately known, it is estimated that between 80,000 and 200,000 Freemasons were killed under the ,000 Nazi regime. Masonic concentration camp inmates were graded as political prisoners and wore an inverted red triangle. The small blue forget-me-not flower was first used by the Grand Lodge Zur Sonne, in 1926, as a Masonic emblem at the annual convention in Bremen, Germany. In 1938 the forget-me-not badge – made by the same factory as the Masonic badge – was chosen for the annual Nazi Party Winterhilfswerk, a Nazi charitable organisation which collected money so that other state funds could be freed up and used for rearmament. This coincidence enabled Freemasons to wear the forget-me-not badge as a secret sign of membership. After World War II, the forget-me-not[dead link] flower was again used as a Masonic emblem at the first Annual Convention of the United Grand Lodges of Germany in 1948. The badge is now worn in the coat lapel by Freemasons around the world to remember all those that have suffered in the name of Freemasonry, especially those during the Nazi era.[dead link] Rosicrucianism From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Redirected from Rosicrucians) The Temple of the Rose Cross, Teophilus Schweighardt Constantiens, 1618. Part of a series of articles on Hermeticism Hermetic Religion Hermeticism Mythology Hermes Trismegistus · Thoth ·Poimandres Hermetica Corpus Hermeticum · Kybalion Three Parts of the Wisdom of the Whole Universe Alchemy · Astrology · Theurgy Influence and Influences Hermetic Movements Rosicrucianism Orders Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn ·Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor ·Hermetic Brotherhood of Light Topics in Hermetism Qabalah Occult and divinatory tarotHermetists and Hermeticists John Dee . Aleister Crowley · Israel Regardie Thābit ibn Qurra · Paracelsus Giordano Bruno · Ahmad al-Būni ·Samuel MacGregor Mathers · William Westcott Franz Bardon · Samuel Odle . Jakob Böhme This box: view talk edit Rosicrucianism is a philosophical secret society, said to have been founded in late medieval Germany by Christian Rosenkreuz. It holds a doctrine or theology "built on esoteric truths of the ancient past", which, "concealed from the average man, provide insight into nature, the physical universe and the spiritual realm." Rosicrucianism is symbolized by the Rosy Cross. Between 1607 and 1616, two anonymous manifestos were published, first in Germany and later throughout Europe. These were Fama Fraternitatis RC (The Fame of the Brotherhood of RC) and Confessio Fraternitatis (The Confession of the Brotherhood of RC). The influence of these documents, presenting a "most laudable Order" of mystic-philosopher-doctors and promoting a "Universal Reformation of Mankind", gave rise to an enthusiasm called by its historian Dame Frances Yates the "Rosicrucian Enlightenment". Rosicrucianism was associated with Protestantism, Lutheranism in particular, and the manifestos opposed Roman Catholicism and its preference for dogma over empiricism. They also rejected Muhammad, though they traced their philosophy and science to the Moors, asserting that it had been kept secret for 120 years until the intellectual climate might receive it. Early seventeenth century occult philosophers such as Michael Maier, Robert Fludd and Thomas Vaughan interested themselves in the Rosicrucian world view. According to historian David Stevenson it was also influential to Freemasonry as it was emerging in Scotland. In later centuries, many esoteric societies have claimed to derive their doctrines, in whole or in part, from the original Rosicrucians. Several modern societies have been formed for the study of Rosicrucianism and allied subjects. Origins The Fama Fraternitatis presented the legend of a German doctor and mystic philosopher referred to as "Frater C.R.C." (later identified in a third manifesto as Christian Rosenkreuz, or "Rose-cross"). The year 1378 is presented as being the birth year of "our Christian Father," and it is stated that he lived 106 years. After studying in the Middle East under various masters, possibly adhering to Sufism, he was unable to spread the knowledge he had acquired to any prominent European figures. Instead, he gathered a small circle of friends/disciples and founded the Rosicrucian Order (this can be deduced to have occurred around 1407). During Rosenkreuz's lifetime, the Order was said to consist of no more than eight members, each a doctor and a sworn bachelor. Each member undertook an oath to heal the sick without payment, to maintain a secret fellowship, and to find a replacement for himself before he died. Three such generations had supposedly passed between c.1500 and c.1600, a time when scientific, philosophical and religious freedom had grown so that the public might benefit from the Rosicrucians' knowledge, so that they were now seeking good men. Reception The manifestos were and are not taken literally by many but rather regarded either as hoaxes or as allegorical statements. The manifestos directly state: "We speak unto you by parables, but would willingly bring you to the right, simple, easy, and ingenuous exposition, understanding, declaration, and knowledge of all secrets." It is evident that the first Rosicrucian manifesto was influenced by the work of the respected hermetic philosopher Heinrich Khunrath, of Hamburg, author of the Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae(1609), who was in turn influenced by John Dee, author of the Monas Hieroglyphica (1564). The invitation to the royal wedding in the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz opens with Dee's philosophical key, the Monas Hieroglyphica symbol. The writer also claimed the brotherhood possessed a book that resembled the works of Paracelsus. Some say the writers were moral and religious reformers. They used the techniques of chemistry (alchemy) and of the sciences generally as media through which to publicize their opinions and beliefs. In his autobiography, Johann Valentin Andreae (1586–1654) claimed the anonymously published Chymische Hochzeit (Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz) as one of his works, and he subsequently described it as a ludibrium. In his later works, he makes alchemy an object of ridicule and places it with music, art, theatre and astrology in the category of less serious sciences. According to some sources, his role in the origin of the Rosicrucian legend is controversial. It is generally accepted according to others. The Rosicrucian Enlightenment The publication of the Fama Fraternitatis Rosae Crucis (1614) In the early 17th century, the manifestos caused excitement throughout Europe by declaring the existence of a secret brotherhood of alchemists and sages who were preparing to transform the arts, sciences, religion, and political and intellectual landscape of Europe. Wars of politics and religion ravaged the continent. The works were re-issued several times and followed by numerous pamphlets, favorable and otherwise. Between 1614 and 1620, about 400 manuscripts and books were published which discussed the Rosicrucian documents. The peak of the so-called "Rosicrucianism furor" was reached when two mysterious posters appeared on the walls of Paris in 1622 within a few days of each other. The first said, "We, the Deputies of the Higher College of the Rose-Croix, do make our stay, visibly and invisibly, in this city (...)" and the second one ended with the words, "The thoughts attached to the real desire of the seeker will lead us to him and him to us". The legend inspired a variety of works, among them the works of Michael Maier (1568–1622) of Germany; Robert Fludd (1574–1637) and Elias Ashmole (1617–1692) of England; Teophilus Schweighardt Constantiens, Gotthardus Arthusius, Julius Sperber, Henricus Madathanus, Gabriel Naudé, Thomas Vaughan, and others. In Elias Ashmole's Theatrum Chimicum britannicum(1650) he defends the Rosicrucians. Some later works with an impact on Rosicrucianism were the Opus magocabalisticum et theosophicum by George von Welling (1719), of alchemical andparacelsian inspiration, and the Aureum Vellus oder Goldenes Vliess by Hermann Fictuld in 1749. Michael Maier was ennobled with the title Pfalzgraf (Count Palatine) by Rudolph II, Emperor and King of Hungary and King of Bohemia. He also was one of the most prominent defenders of the Rosicrucians, clearly transmitting details about the "Brothers of the Rose Cross" in his writings. Maier made the firm statement that the Brothers of R.C. exist to advance inspired arts and sciences, including alchemy. Researchers of Maier's writings point out that he never claimed to have produced gold, nor did Heinrich Khunrath or any of the other Rosicrucianists. Their writings point toward a symbolic and spiritual alchemy, rather than an operative one. In both direct and veiled styles, these writings conveyed the nine stages of the involutive-evolutive transmutation of the threefold body of the human being, the threefold soul and the threefold spirit, among other esoteric knowledge related to the "Path of Initiation". In his 1618 pamphlet, Pia et Utilissima Admonitio de Fratribus Rosae Crucis, Henrichus Neuhusius writes that the Rosicrucians left for the East due to the instability in Europe caused by the start of the Thirty Years' War. In 1710 Sigmund Richter, founder of the secret society of the Golden and Rosy Cross, also suggested the Rosicrucians had migrated to the East. In the first half of the 20th century, René Guénon, a researcher of the occult, presented this same idea in some of his works. An eminent author of the 19th century, Arthur Edward Waite, presents arguments that contradict this idea. It was in this fertile field of discourse that many "Rosicrucian" societies arose. They were based on the occult tradition and inspired by the mystery of this "College of Invisibles". Frater C.R.C. – Christian Rose Cross (symbolical representation) The literary works of the 16th and 17th centuries are full of enigmatic passages containing references to the Rose Cross, as in these lines (somewhat modernised): For what we do presage is not in grosse, For we are brethren of the Rosie Crosse; We have the Mason Word and second sight, Things for to come we can foretell aright. — Henry Adamson, The Muses' Threnodie (Perth, 1638). The idea of such an order, exemplified by the network of astronomers, professors, mathematicians, and natural philosophers in 16th century Europe and promoted by men such as Johannes Kepler, Georg Joachim Rheticus, John Dee and Tycho Brahe, gave rise to the Invisible College. This was a precursor to the Royal Society which was founded in 1660. It was constituted by a group of scientists who began to hold regular meetings to share and develop knowledge acquired by experimental investigation. Among these were Robert Boyle, who wrote: "the cornerstones of the Invisible (or as they term themselves the Philosophical) College, do now and then honour me with their company..."; John Wilkins and John Wallis, who described those meetings in the following terms: "About the year 1645, while I lived in London (at a time when, by our civil wars, academical studies were much interrupted in both our Universities), ... I had the opportunity of being acquainted with divers worthy persons, inquisitive natural philosophy, and other parts of human learning; and particularly of what hath been called the New Philosophy or Experimental Philosophy. We did by agreements, divers of us, meet weekly in London on a certain day and hour, under a certain penalty, and a weekly contribution for the charge of experiments, with certain rules agreed amongst us, to treat and discourse of such affairs..." Rose-Cross Degrees in Freemasonry 18° Knight of the Rose Croixjewel (from the Masonic Scottish Rite) According to Jean-Pierre Bayard, two Rosicrucian-inspired Masonic rites emerged towards the end of 18th century, the Rectified Scottish Rite, widespread in Central Europe where there was a strong presence of the "Golden and Rosy Cross", and the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, first practised in France, in which the 18th degree is called Knight of the Rose Croix. The change from "operative" to "speculative" Masonry occurred between the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 18th century. Two of the earliest speculative Masons for whom a record of initiation exists were Sir Robert Moray and Elias Ashmole. Robert Vanloo states that earlier 17th century Rosicrucianism had a considerable influence on Anglo-Saxon Masonry. Hans Schick sees in the works of Comenius (1592–1670) the ideal of the newly born English Masonry before the foundation of the Grand Lodge in 1717. Comenius was in England during 1641. The Gold und Rosenkreuzer (Golden and Rosy Cross) was founded by the alchemist Samuel Richter who in 1710 published Die warhhaffte und vollkommene Bereitung des Philosophischen Steins der Brüderschaft aus dem Orden des Gülden-und Rosen-Creutzes (The True and Complete Preparation of the Philosopher's Stone by the Brotherhood from the Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross) in Breslau under the pseudonym Sincerus Renatus in Prague in the early 18th century as a hierarchical secret society composed of internal circles, recognition signs and alchemy treatises. Under the leadership of Hermann Fictuld the group reformed itself extensively in 1767 and again in 1777 because of political pressure. Its members claimed that the leaders of the Rosicrucian Order had invented Freemasonry and only they knew the secret meaning of Masonic symbols. The Rosicrucian Order had been founded by Egyptian ―Ormusse‖ or ―Licht-Weise‖ who had emigrated to Scotland with the name ―Builders from the East‖. Then the original Order disappeared and was supposed to have been resurrected by Oliver Cromwell as ―Freemasonry‖. In 1785 and 1788 the Golden and Rosy Cross group published the Geheime Figuren or ―The Secret Symbols of the 16th and 17th century Rosicrucians‖. Led by Johann Christoph von Wöllner and General Johann Rudolf von Bischoffwerder, the Masonic lodge (later: Grand Lodge) Zu den drei Weltkugeln (The Three Globes) was infiltrated and came under the influence of the Golden and Rosy Cross. Many Freemasons became Rosicrucianists and Rosicrucianism was established in many lodges. In 1782 at the Convent of Wilhelmsbad the Alte schottische Loge Friedrich zum goldenen Löwen (Old Scottish Lodge Friedrich at the Golden Lion) in Berlin strongly requested Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and all other Freemasons to submit to the Golden and Rosy Cross, without success. After 1782, this highly secretive society added Egyptian, Greek and Druidic mysteries to its alchemy system. A comparative study of what is known about the Gold and Rosenkreuzer appears to reveal, on the one hand, that it has influenced the creation of some modern Initiatic groups and, on the other hand, that the Nazis (see The Occult Roots of Nazism) may have been inspired by this German group. According to the writings of the Masonic historian E.J. Marconis de Negre, who together with his father Gabriel M. Marconis is held to be the founder of the "Rite of Memphis-Misraim" of Freemasonry, based on earlier conjectures (1784) by a Rosicrucian scholar Baron de Westerode and also promulgated by the 18th century secret society called the "Golden and Rosy Cross", the Rosicrucian Order was created in the year 46 when an Alexandrian Gnosticsage named Ormus and his six followers were converted by one of Jesus' disciples, Mark. Their symbol was said to be a red cross surmounted by a rose, thus the designation of Rosy Cross. From this conversion, Rosicrucianism was supposedly born, by purifying Egyptian mysteries with the new higher teachings of early Christianity. According to Maurice Magre (1877–1941) in his book Magicians, Seers, and Mystics, Rosenkreutz was the last descendant of the Germelshausen, a German family from the 13th century. Their castle stood in the Thuringian Forest on the border of Hesse, and they embraced Albigensian doctrines. The whole family was put to death by Landgrave Conrad of Thuringia, except for the youngest son, then five years old. He was carried away secretly by a monk, an Albigensian adept from Languedoc, and placed in a monastery under the influence of the Albigenses, where he was educated and met the four Brothers later to be associated with him in the founding of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood. Magre's account supposedly derives from oral tradition. Around 1530, more than eighty years before the publication of the first manifesto, the association of cross and rose already existed in Portugal in the Convent of the Order of Christ, home of the Knights Templar, later renamed Order of Christ. Three bocetes were, and still are, on the abóboda (vault) of the initiation room. The rose can clearly be seen at the center of the cross. At the same time, a minor writing by Paracelsus called Prognosticatio Eximii Doctoris Paracelsi (1530), containing 32 prophecies with allegorical pictures surrounded by enigmatic texts, makes reference to an image of a double cross over an open rose; this is one of the examples used to prove the "Fraternity of the Rose Cross" existed far earlier than 1614. Modern groups During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, various groups styled themselves Rosicrucian. The diverse groups who link themselves to a "Rosicrucian Tradition" can be divided into three categories: Esoteric Christian Rosicrucian groups, which profess Christ; Masonic Rosicrucian groups such as Societas Rosicruciana; and initiatory groups such as the Golden Dawn and the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC). Esoteric Christian Rosicrucian schools provide esoteric knowledge related to the inner teachings of Christianity. The Rosicrucian Fellowship, 1909/11. Teachings present the mysteries, in the form of esoteric knowledge, of which Christ spoke in Matthew 13:11 and Luke 8:10. The Fellowship seeks to prepare the individual through harmonious development of mind and heart in a spirit of unselfish service to mankind and an allembracing altruism. According to it the Rosicrucian Order was founded in the year 1313 and is composed of twelve exalted Beings gathered around a thirteenth, Christian Rosenkreuz. These great Adepts have already advanced far beyond the cycle of rebirth; their mission is to prepare the whole wide world for a new phase in religion—which includes awareness of the inner worlds and the subtle bodies, and to provide safe guidance in the gradual awakening of man's latent spiritual faculties during the next six centuries toward the coming Age of Aquarius. According to masonic writers the Order of the Rose Cross is expounded in a major Christian literary work that molded the subsequent spiritual views of the western civilization, The Divine Comedy (ca. 1308–1321) by Dante Alighieri. Other Christian-Rosicrucian oriented bodies include: Anthroposophical Society, 1912 Lectorium Rosicrucianum, 1924 Archeosophical Society, 1968 Freemasonic Rosicrucian bodies providing preparation either through direct study and/or through the practice of symbolic-initiatic journey. French Rite, 1786 Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, 1801 Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, 1866, in Scotia (SRIS; Scotland), in Civitatibus Foederatis (MSRICF/SRICF; United States) etc. This Masonic esoteric society reprinted the Rosicrucian manifestos in 1923. A well-known member was Arthur Edward Waite. Initiatory groups which follow a degree system of study and initiation include: The Rosicrucian Order, AMORC, incorporated in the U.S. in 1915 Rosicrucian Order of the Golden Dawn, California based Order The Order of the Hermetic Gold and Rose + Cross, established in the Philippines in 1930 Chronological list of groups formed for the study of Rosicrucianism and related subjects Many of these groups generally speak of a lineal descent from earlier branches of the ancient Rosicrucian Order in England, France, Egypt, or other countries. However, some groups speak of a spiritual affiliation with a true and invisible Rosicrucian Order. Note there are other Rosicrucian groups not listed here. Some do not use the name "Rosicrucian" to name themselves. Some groups listed may have been dissolved and are no longer operating. Fraternitas Rosae Crucis, 1861 Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA). ca. 1860–1865 Societas Rosicruciana in America (SRIA), 1878 Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (SRICF), 1879 Cabalistic Order of the Rosicrucian (Kabbalistique de la Rose Croix), 1888 Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, 1888 Rose Cross Order, 1889 Order of the Temple & the Graal and of the Catholic Order of the Rose-Croix (l'Ordre de la Rose Croix Catholique et Esthetique, du Temple et du Graal) (CRC) ('Catholic', as in 'Universal'), 1890 Alchemical Rose-Croix Society (Association Alchimique de France), 1896 Rose-Croix de l'Orient (Rose-Cross of the East) (RCO) ? The Elder Brothers of the Rose-Croix (Les Freres Aînés de la Rose-Croix) Antiquus Arcanus Ordo Rosæ Rubæ Aureæ Crucis (AAORRAC) ? Ordo Aureæ & Rosæ Crucis (Antique Arcanæ Ordinis Rosæ Rubeæ et Aureæ Crucis)(OARC) ? Rosicrucian Fellowship (Association of Christian Mystics) 1909 Order of the Temple of the Rosy Cross, 1912 Corona Fellowship of Rosicrucians (CFR), c. 1918 Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, (AMORC), 1915 Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship, 1924 Lectorium Rosicrucianum, 1924 Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua (FRA), 1927 The Saint Paul Rosicrucian Fellowship (Fraternidade Rosacruciana São Paulo), 1929 ConFraternity Rosae + Crucis (CR+C), 1989 Ancient Rosae Crucis (ARC), ? The Order of the Hermetic Gold and The Rose + Cross (OHGRC), 1930  The Knights of the Militia Crucifera Evangelica (KMCE), Alchemical Order dela Rosé-Croix  Ordo Templi Orientis From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) (Order of the Temple of the East, or the Order of Oriental Templars) is an international fraternal and religious organization founded at the beginning of the 20th century. English author and occultist Aleister Crowley has become the most well-known member of the order. Originally it was intended to be modelled after and associated with Freemasonry, but under the leadership of Aleister Crowley, O.T.O. was reorganized around the Law of Thelema as its central religious principle. This Law—expressed as ―Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law" and "Love is the law, love under will‖—was promulgated in 1904 with the writing of The Book of the Law. Similar to many secret societies, O.T.O. membership is based on an initiatory system with a series of degree ceremonies that use ritual drama to establish fraternal bonds and impart spiritual and philosophical teachings. O.T.O. also includes the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica (EGC) or Gnostic Catholic Church, which is the ecclesiastical arm of the Order. Its central rite, which is public, is called Liber XV, or the Gnostic Mass. Contents [hide] 1 History o 1.1 Origins o 1.2 O.T.O. and Aleister Crowley o 1.3 O.T.O. after Crowley 2 Philosophy of O.T.O. 3 Initiation and teachings 4 Structure o 4.1 International o 4.2 National 4.2.1 Current Grand Lodges o 4.3 The Gnostic Catholic Church o 4.4 O.T.O. bodies 5 Questions of legitimacy o 5.1 Court cases 6 Criticisms 7 See also 8 Notes 9 References 10 External links o 10.1 Reference sites o 10.2 Critical links History Origins The early history of O.T.O. is difficult to trace reliably. It originated in Germany or Austria between 1895 and 1906. Its apparent founder was Carl Kellner (probably with the German spelling Karl), a wealthy Austrian industrialist, in 1895 (although nothing verifiable is known of the Order until 1904). Theodor Reuss (1855–1923) collaborated with Kellner in creating O.T.O., and succeeded him as head of O.T.O. after Kellner's death. Under Reuss, charters were given to occult brotherhoods in France, Denmark, Switzerland, the U.S.A.and Austria. There were nine degrees, of which the first six were Masonic. In 1902, Reuss, along with Franz Hartmann and Henry Klein, purchased the right to perform the Rite of Memphis and Mizraim of Freemasonry, the authority of which was confirmed in 1904 and again in 1905. Although these rites are considered to be irregular, they, along with the Swedenborg Rite formed the core of the newly established Order. O.T.O. and Aleister Crowley Reuss met Aleister Crowley and in 1910 admitted him to the first three degrees of O.T.O. Only two years later, Crowley was placed in charge of Great Britain and Ireland, and was advanced to the X° (tenth degree). The appointment included the opening of the British section of O.T.O., which was called the Mysteria Mystica Maxima or the M∴M∴M∴. Crowley then went to Berlin to obtain instructional manuscripts and the title of Supreme and Holy King of Ireland, Iona and all the Britains within the Sanctuary of the Gnosis. Within the year Crowley had written the Manifesto of the M∴M∴M∴ which described its basic ten-degree system with Kellner’s three degree Academia Masonica forming the seventh, eighth and ninth degrees. In 1913, Crowley composed the Gnostic Mass while in Moscow, which he described as being the Order’s ―central ceremony of its public and private celebration.‖ In 1914, soon after World War I broke out, he moved to the United States of America. It was around this time that Crowley decided to integrate Thelema into the O.T.O. system, and in 1915 prepared revised rituals for use in the M∴M∴M∴. In 1917, Reuss wrote a Synopsis of Degrees of O.T.O. in which the third degree was listed as "Craft of Masonry" and listed the initiations involved as "Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, Master Mason" and elaborated on this with "Full instruction in Craft Masonry, including the Catechism of the first three degrees, and an explanation of all the various Masonic systems." The same document shows that the fourth degree of O.T.O. is also known as the Holy Royal Archof Enoch. It was summarized by Reuss as the Degree of "Scotch Masonry," equivalent to "Scotch Mason, Knight of St. Andrew, Royal Arch," and he described it as "Full instruction in the Scottish degrees of Ancient and Accepted Masonry." In 1919, Crowley attempted to work this Masonic-based O.T.O. in Detroit, Michigan. The result was that he was rebuffed by the Council of the Scottish rite on the basis that O.T.O. rituals were too similar to orthodox Masonry. He described this in a 1930 letter to Arnold Krumm-Heller: However, when it came to the considerations of the practical details of the rituals to be worked, the general Council of the Scottish Rite could not see its way to tolerate them, on the ground that the symbolism in some places touched too nearly that of the orthodox Masonry of the Lodges.  Crowley subsequently rewrote the initiation rituals of the first three degrees, and in doing so removed most of those rituals' ties to Masonry. He did not, however, rewrite the fourth degree ritual, which remains in its form and structure related to the various Royal Arch rituals of Masonry. Crowley wrote that Theodore Reuss suffered a stroke in the spring of 1920. In correspondence with one of Reuss's officers, Crowley expressed doubts about Reuss's competence to remain in office. Relations between Reuss and Crowley began to deteriorate, and the two exchanged angry letters in November 1921. Crowley informed Reuss that he was availing himself of Reuss's abdication from office and proclaiming himself Outer Head of the Order. Reuss died on October 0. In correspondence with one of Reuss's officers, Crowley expressed doubts about Reuss's competence to remain in office. Relations between Reuss and Crowley began to deteriorate, and the two exchanged angry letters in November 1921. Crowley informed Reuss that he was availing himself of Reuss's abd1921. Crowley informed Reuss that he was availing himself of Reuss's abdication from office and proclaiming himself Outer Head of the Order. Reuss died on October , 1923 without designating a successor, though Crowley claimed in later correspondence that Reuss had designated him. Crowley biographer Lawrence Sutin, among others, casts doubt on this claim, although there is no evidence for or against it, and no other candidate stepped forward to refute Crowley by offering proof of succession. In 1925, during a tumultuous Conference of Grand Masters, Crowley was officially elected as Outer Head of the Order (or O.H.O.) by the remaining administrative heads of O.T.O.3 without designating a successor, though Crowley claimed in later correspondence that Reuss had designated him. Crowley biographer Lawrence Sutin, among others, casts doubt on this claim, although there is no evidence for or against it, and no other candidate stepped forward to refute Crowley by offering proof of succession. In 1925,1925, during a tumultuous Conference of Grand Masters, Crowley was officially elected as Outer Head of the Order (or O.H.O.) by the remaining administrative heads of O.T.O. During WWII, the European branches of O.T.O. were either destroyed or driven underground. By the end of the war, the only surviving O.T.O. body was Agapé Lodge in California, although there were various initiates in different countries. Very few initiations were being performed. At this time, Karl Germer, who had been Crowley’s representative in Germany, migrated to America after being released from Nazi confinement. On March 14, 1942, Crowley appointed him as his successor as Outer Head of the Order, and Germer filled the office after the death of Crowley in 1947. O.T.O. after Crowley After Crowley's death Germer attempted to keep O.T.O. running, with questionable success. Crowley had granted a charter to run an O.T.O. Camp in England to Gerald Gardner, and Germer acknowledged Gardner as the O.T.O.'s main representative in Europe. The two men met in 1948 in New York to discuss plans, but Gardner's continuing ill health led to Germer replacing him with Frederic Mellinger in 1951. Also in 1951 Germer granted a charter to run an O.T.O. Camp in England to Kenneth Grant, who had briefly served as Crowley's secretary during the 1940s. Grant was to be expelled and his charter revoked in 1955 however, and from that time onwards the O.T.O.'s representative in the U.K. was a IX° member, Noel Fitzgerald.  Germer died in 1962 without naming a successor. It was not until 1969 that Grady McMurtry invoked emergency authorization from Crowley and became the Frater Superior of O.T.O. McMurtry did not claim the title of Outer Head of the Order, stating in 1974 that "There is at present no Outer Head of the Order for Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis. The Outer Head of the Order is an international office (see p. 201, The Blue Equinox) and Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis is not at this time established organizationally to fulfill the requirements of its Constitution in this respect." He began performing initiations in 1970. O.T.O. was incorporated under the laws of the State of California on March , 1979. The corporation attained federal tax exemption as a religious entity under IRS Code 501(c)3 in 1982. Grady McMurtry died in 1985, having successfully saved O.T.O. from possible extinction. McMurtry requested that members of the Sovereign Sanctuary of the Gnosis (i.e. the members of the Ninth Degree) elect the next Caliph, which they did in 1985. William Breeze was elected, taking the name Hymenaeus Beta. In the Fall 1995 issue of The Magical Link, he is designated "Hymenaeus Beta X°"; in the Fall 1997 issue of The Magical Link, he is designated "Hymenaeus Beta XI°"; by May 2005, he is designated "O.H.O. Hymenaeus Beta XII°" on the O.T.O. website. In 1996, Sabazius X° was appointed as National Grand Master General (G.M.G.) for the U.S. Grand Lodge. In 2005, Frater Hyperion X° was appointed the National G.M.G. of the newly formed UK Grand Lodge. Frater Shiva X° was appointed the G.M.G. of Australia Grand Lodge in 2006. Philosophy of O.T.O. O.T.O. was described by Crowley as the "first of the great Old Æon orders to accept The Book of the Law". O.T.O. originally borrowed ritual material from irregular Masonic organizations, and although some related symbolism and language remains in use, the context has changed to Thelema and its tenets. The Order offers esoteric instruction through dramatic ritual, guidance in a system of illuminated ethics, and fellowship among aspirants to the Great Work of realizing the divine in the human. O.T.O. has two core areas of ritual activity: initiation into the Mysteries, and the celebration of Liber XV, the Gnostic Mass. In addition, the Order organizes lectures, classes, social events, theatrical productions and artistic exhibitions, publishes books and journals, and provides instruction in Hermetic science, yoga, and magick. Crowley wrote in his Confessions: ... the O.T.O. is in possession of one supreme secret. The whole of its system [is] directed towards communicating to its members, by progressively plain hints, this all-important instruction. Of the first set of initiations, he wrote: ... the main objects of the instruction [are] two. It [is] firstly necessary to explain the universe and the relations of human life therewith. Secondly, to instruct every man [and woman] how best to adapt his [or her] life to the cosmos and to develop his faculties to the utmost advantage. I accordingly constructed a series of rituals, Minerval, Man, Magician, Master-Magician, Perfect Magician and Perfect Initiate, which should illustrate the course of human life in its largest philosophical aspect. The initiation rituals after the V° (fifth degree) are such that: the candidate is instructed in the value of discretion, loyalty, independence, truthfulness, courage, self-control, indifference to circumstance, impartiality, scepticism, and other virtues, and at the same time assisted him to discover for himself the nature of [the supreme] secret, the proper object of its employment and the best means for insuring success for its use:701 Of the entire system of O.T.O., Crowley wrote in Confessions: It offers a rational basis for universal brotherhood and for universal religion. It puts forward a scientific statement which is a summary of all that is at present known about the universe by means of a simple, yet sublime symbolism, artistically arranged. It also enables each man to discover for himself his personal destiny, indicates the moral and intellectual qualities which he requires in order to fulfil it freely, and finally puts in his hands an unimaginably powerful weapon which he may use to develop in himself every faculty which he may need in his work.:703 Initiation and teachings Lamen of Ordo Templi Orientis Membership in O.T.O. is based upon a system of initiation ceremonies (or degrees) which use ritual drama to establish fraternal bonds between members as well as impart spiritual and philosophical teachings. The degrees also serve an organizational function, in that certain degrees must be attained before taking on various forms of service in the Order (e.g. taking the degree of K.E.W. is a requirement for ordination as a priest or priestess in Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica). There are thirteen numbered degrees and twelve un-numbered degrees which are divided into three grades or "triads"—the Hermit, the Lover, and the Man of Earth. Admittance to each degree of O.T.O. involves an initiation and the swearing of an oath which O.T.O claims is similar to those used in Freemasonry. Advancement through the Man of Earth triad requires sponsorship from ranking members. Advancement into the degree of the Knight of the East and West and beyond requires one to be invited by ranking members. The ultimate goal of initiation in O.T.O. is "to instruct the individual by allegory and symbol in the profound mysteries of Nature, and thereby to assist each to discover his or her own true Identity." The entire system is as follows: The Man of Earth Triad 0°—Minerval I°—Man & Brother Imparted the mysteries of death. IV°—Perfect Magician & Companion of the Holy Royal Arch of Enoch P.I.—Perfect Initiate, or Prince of Jerusalem Outside all Triads Imparted the mysteries of life. III°—Master Magician Imparted the mysteries of birth. II°—Magician Imparted the mysteries of attraction and conception. Knight of the East & West The Lover Triad V°— Sovereign Prince Rose-Croix, and Knight of the Pelican & Eagle Knight of the Red Eagle, and Member of the Senate of Knight Hermetic Philosophers VI°— Illustrious Knight (Templar) of the Order of Kadosch, and Companion of the Holy Graal Grand Inquisitor Commander, and Member of the Grand Tribunal Prince of the Royal Secret VII°— Theoreticus, and Very Illustrious Sovereign Grand Inspector General Magus of Light, and Bishop of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica Grandmaster of Light, and Inspector of Rites & Degrees Adoration of the phallus as the microcosmic counterpart to the sun is taught in this degree, including the creation of a personal 'chapel' which contains a sculpture of a phallus in silver, bronze, or another such substance. De Natura Deorum is given for study and practice. The Hermit Triad VIII°— Perfect Pontiff of the Illuminati Epopt of the Illuminati Masturbatory or autosexual magical techniques are taught, referred as the Lesser Work of Sol De Nuptiis Secretis Deorum Cum Hominibus is given for study and practice. IX°—Initiate of the Sanctuary of the Gnosis Heterosexual magical techniques are taught, including the creation of a homunculus The following texts are given for study and practice: Agape vel Liber C vel Azoth De Homunculo Epistola De Arte Magica IX° Emblems and Modes of Use X°—Rex Summus Sanctissimus XI°—Initiate of the Eleventh Degree (This degree is technical, and has no relation to the general plan of the Order) Anal intercourse techniques as sexual and magical XII°—Frater Superior, and Outer Head of the Order Structure The governing bodies of O.T.O. include: 1. International Headquarters Presided over by the Outer Head of the Order XII° (O.H.O.—also known as Frater Superior) Supreme Council Revolutionaries 2. The Sovereign Sanctuary of the Gnosis of the IX° 3. The Secret Areopagus of the Illuminati of the VIII° 4. The Grand Tribunal of the VI° 5. The National Grand Lodge Presided over by the National Grand Master X° Executive Council 6. The Supreme Grand Council 7. The Electoral College International 1. The International Headquarters is the body that governs O.T.O. worldwide. As a ruling body, it is known as the International Supreme Council, which consists of the Outer Head of the Order (O.H.O.—also known as Frater Superior), the Secretary General, and the Treasurer General. 2. The Sovereign Sanctuary of the Gnosis consists of members who have reached the IX°. Their prime duty is to study and to practice the theurgy and thaumaturgy of the degree, consisting of the Supreme Secret of the Order. However, as a ruling body, they have the authority to ratify and overturn the rulings of the Areopagus act as representatives of the O.H.O. and National Grand Masters when need arises fill the office of Revolutionary vote within the Secret Areopagus have some powers over the installation and removal of the O.H.O. and National Grand Masters 3. The Secret Areopagus of the Illuminati is a philosophical Governing Body composed of those who have reached the VIII°. It has the authority to reverse the decisions of the Grand Tribunal. 4. The Grand Tribunal is composed of members of the degree of Grand Inquisitor Commander (a sub-degree of the VI°). Their primary duty is to hear and arbitrate disputes and complaints not resolved at the level of Chapters and Lodges. National 1. At the national level, the highest body is the Grand Lodge, which is ruled by the National Grand Master. Within the Grand Lodge is an Executive Council, which consists of the Board of Directors, who are the National Grand Master, the Grand Secretary General, and the Grand Treasurer General. 2. The Supreme Grand Council consists of members of the VII° appointed by the National Grand Master X°. They are charged with: the government of the whole of the Lovers Grade Hearing and deciding appeals of the decisions of the Electoral College Hearing reports of the Sovereign Grand Inspectors General VII° as to the affairs of the Initiate members of the Lovers Grade 3. The Electoral College consists of eleven members of the V° and is the first of the governing bodies. Its primary duty is to oversee the affairs of the Man of Earth Grade. O.T.O. has a federally recognised tax-exempt status in the USA under IRS section 501c(3). It also has California charitable corporation status. Current Grand Lodges The US Grand Lodge is the governing body of O.T.O. in the United States of America. The U.S. National Grand Master is Frater Sabazius X°, who was appointed in 1996. According to its website, the Mission Statement of U.S.G.L. is as follows: Ordo Templi Orientis U.S.A. is the U.S. Grand Lodge (National Section) of Ordo Templi Orientis, a hierarchical, religious membership organization. Our mission is to effect and promote the doctrines and practices of the philosophical and religious system known as Thelema, with particular emphasis on cultivating the ideals of individual liberty, self-discipline, self-knowledge, and universal brotherhood. To this end, we conduct sacramental and initiatory rites, offer guidance and instruction to our members, organize social events, and engage in educational and community service activities at locations throughout the United States. As of Feb 29, 2008 US Grand Lodge had 1,212 members in 57 local bodies.,212 members in 57 local The UK Grand Lodge is the governing body of O.T.O. in the United Kingdom. The UK National Grand Master is Frater Hyperion X°, who was appointed in 2005 (93 years after the last Grand Master for the UK, Aleister Crowley, was elevated to that office). The Australian Grand Lodge is the governing body of O.T.O. in Australia and its territories, chartered in April 2006. The A.G.L. National Grand Master is Frater Shiva X°. The Gnostic Catholic Church Main article: Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica The Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, or Gnostic Catholic Church, is the ecclesiastical arm of O.T.O. Its central activity is the celebration of Liber XV, The Gnostic Mass. In recent years, other rites have been written and approved for use within the church. These include Baptism, Confirmation (into the Laity), and Ordination (for Deacons, Priests & Priestesses, and Bishops), and Last Rites. There are also several "unofficial" rituals that are celebrated within the context of E.G.C., including Weddings, Visitation and Administration of the Virtues to the Sick, Exorcism, and Rites for Life and Greater Feasts. O.T.O. bodies At the Man of Earth level, there are three levels of Local Body, which are Camps, Oases, and Lodges. 1. Camps tend to be the smallest and are not required to perform initiations. They are encouraged to celebrate the Gnostic Mass. 2. Oases must be capable of initiating through the III° and are required to perform the Gnostic Mass six times yearly. 3. Lodges are expected to celebrate the Gnostic Mass on a regular basis, work towards establishing a permanent temple, and have the ability to initiate through IV°/P.I. 4. Chapters of Rose Croix are bodies established by members of the Lover Grade. A Chapter is headed by a Most Wise Sovereign. They are generally charged with arranging social activities, such as plays, banquets, and dances. They also work to promote harmony among the members by tact and friendliness. 5. Guilds are groups recognized by O.T.O. International designed to promote a profession, trade, science or craft. Subject to approval by the Areopagus, they make their own regulations and coordinate their own efforts. There are currently three Guilds: the Psychology Guild, the Translators' Guild, and the Information Technology Guild. 6. The term Sanctuary is sometimes used to indicate a group of initiates organized for E.G.C. activities. This designation currently reflects no formal chartering process or official standing within the Order. Questions of legitimacy Several competing factions have claimed to be legitimate heirs to Aleister Crowley. Both before and after McMurtry revived O.T.O. in California, others came forward with various claims of succession. Although Karl Germer expelled Kenneth Grant from O.T.O. in 1955, Grant went on to claim himself Outer Head of Ordo Templi Orientis in a series of influential books. His organization has recently changed its name to the Typhonian Order and no longer claims to represent O.T.O. Hermann Metzger, another claimant, had been initiated into O.T.O. under Germer in Germany in the 1950s, and headed the Swiss branch of the Order. After Germer's death he attempted to proclaim himself head of O.T.O. However, his claims were ignored by everyone outside of his country and he never pressed the issue. He died in 1990. Marcelo Ramos Motta (1931–1987), a third claimant, was never initiated into O.T.O. at all, but claimed on the basis that Germer’s wife, Sasha, told him that Karl’s last words stated that Motta was "the follower." He sued for ownership of Crowley’s copyrights, which were denied to him by the U.S. District Court in Maine. Motta died in 1987, although various small groups calling themselves Society O.T.O. (S.O.T.O.) continue to exist and claim authority from him. Court cases O.T.O. as revived by McMurtry has won two court cases regarding its legitimacy as the continuation of the O.T.O. of Aleister Crowley: 1976: the Superior Court in Calaveras County, California recognizes Grady McMurtry as the authorized representative of O.T.O. 1985: in the 9th Federal District Court in San Francisco, McMurtry is found to be the legitimate head of O.T.O. within the United States, and that O.T.O. under McMurtry is the continuation of the O.T.O. of Aleister Crowley, and the exclusive owner of the names, trademarks, copyrights and other assets of O.T.O. This decision is appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and upheld. The Supreme Court declined to hear a final appeal. After the case, the US O.T.O. purchased the Crowley copyrights from the official receiver, even though the US court decision declared that they were the rightful owners. The following case is also significant in the Order's history, though it does not have as much bearing on the issue of legitimacy: 2002: The United Kingdom High Court, in Ordo Templi Orientis v. John Symonds, Anthony Naylor and Mandrake Press, finds that O.T.O. as revived by McMurtry is the sole owner of the copyrights for all of the works of Aleister Crowley. In its particulars of claim, O.T.O. had pled two mutually exclusive routes to ownership of the copyrights: (a) through Crowley's will as the named beneficiary O.T.O., a route to title that had been affirmed in U.S. Federal Court but had never been tested under English law, and (b) the "bankruptcy route," on which theory O.T.O. acquired title to the copyrights from 1991 from the UK Crown Official Receiver in Bankruptcy. The Chancery Master agreed that these two routes were largely mutually exclusive; if Crowley's copyrights were not an asset in his undischarged bankruptcy, then O.T.O. bought nothing, and could only claim through the will, under which the copyrights would have to pass; but if the rights were an asset in bankruptcy, then Crowley had lacked any power to make O.T.O. a bequest of them in his will. The court examined the bankruptcy aspect first, finding that O.T.O. acquired good title. The copyrights were thus Crown property between 1935 and 1991, making dozens of books—even many of O.T.O.'s own editions—unauthorized. Had the "will route" been tried, it would have given O.T.O. an opportunity to gain recognition in UK court as the legitimate continuation of Crowley's O.T.O., since that is a precondition to being found the rightful beneficiary of his will. Thus, the issue of the organization's legitimacy did arise at trial, since it was pled into court, but it was not ruled upon. While there is no way to know whether, had it been tested, it would have been confirmed or denied, O.T.O. made thorough legal preparations for this aspect of their case as detailed in their "Particulars of Claim". However, even O.T.O. would agree that it would be misleading to cite this case as affirming the organization's historical legitimacy, since that issue went untried. In Australia in 2005, O.T.O. began a defamation case against the site GaiaGuys for material put up on their website that directly accused O.T.O., particularly in Australia, of participating in acts of child abuse and sacrifice. The court found in favour of O.T.O. Criticisms In February 2006, a long-time high-ranking member and occult author, T. Allen Greenfield, called for the resignation of upper management and stepped down from all managerial duties in protest. He went on to write a detailed analysis of "the failure of the O.T.O." and the "culture of fear" which he says currently exists within O.T.O. which is included as the last chapter and Epilogue of his book The Roots of Modern Magick. Although he is no longer a member of O.T.O. he continues to be a critic of the current Frater Superior of the Order, Hymenaeus Beta. Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This article is about the historical organization of the late 19th century. For similar later organizations, see Golden Dawn (disambiguation). Part of a series of articles on Hermeticism Hermetic Religion Hermeticism Mythology Hermes Trismegistus · Thoth ·Poimandres Hermetica Corpus Hermeticum · Kybalion Three Parts of the Wisdom of the Whole Universe Alchemy · Astrology · Theurgy Influence and Influences Hermetic Movements Rosicrucianism Orders Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn ·Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor ·Hermetic Brotherhood of Light Topics in Hermetism Qabalah Occult and divinatory tarotHermetists and Hermeticists John Dee . Aleister Crowley · Israel Regardie Thābit ibn Qurra · Paracelsus Giordano Bruno · Ahmad al-Būni ·Samuel MacGregor Mathers · William Westcott Franz Bardon · Samuel Odle . Jakob Böhme This box: view talk edit The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (or, more commonly, the Golden Dawn) was a magical order active in Great Britain during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which practicedtheurgy and spiritual development. It has been one of the largest single influences on 20th-century Western occultism. Concepts of magic and ritual at the center of contemporary traditions, such as Wicca and Thelema, were inspired by the Golden Dawn. The three founders, William Robert Woodman, William Wynn Westcott, and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers were Freemasons and members of Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (S.R.I.A.).Westcott appears to have been the initial driving force behind the establishment of the Golden Dawn. The Golden Dawn system was based on hierarchy and initiation like the Masonic Lodges; however women were admitted on an equal basis with men. The "Golden Dawn" was the first of three Orders, although all three are often collectively referred to as the "Golden Dawn". The First Order taught esoteric philosophy based on the Hermetic Qabalah and personal development through study and awareness of the four Classical Elements as well as the basics of astrology, tarot divination, and geomancy. The Second or "Inner" Order, the Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis (the Ruby Rose and Cross of Gold), taught proper magic, including scrying, astral travel, and alchemy. The Third Order was that of the "Secret Chiefs", who were said to be highly skilled; they supposedly directed the activities of the lower two orders by spirit communication with the Chiefs of the Second Order. History Cipher Manuscripts Main article: Cipher Manuscripts Folio 13 of the Cipher Manuscripts The foundational documents of the original Order of the Golden Dawn are known as the Cipher Manuscripts; they were written in English using Trithemius cipher. The Manuscripts give the specific outlines of the Grade Rituals of the Order and prescribe a curriculum of graduated teachings that encompass the Hermetic Qabalah, astrology, occult tarot, geomancy, and alchemy. According to the records of the Order, the manuscripts were passed from Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie, a Masonic scholar, to Rev. A.F.A. Woodford, whom British occult writer Francis Kingdescribes as the fourth founder (although Woodford died shortly after the Order was founded). The documents did not excite Woodford and in February 1886 he passed them on to FreemasonWilliam Wynn Westcott, who managed to decode them in 1887. Westcott was pleased with his discovery and called on fellow Freemason Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers for a second opinion. Westcott asked for Mathers' help to turn the manuscripts into a coherent system for lodge work. Mathers in turn asked fellow Freemason William Robert Woodman to assist the two and he accepted. Mathers and Westcott have been credited for developing the ritual outlines in the Cipher Manuscripts into a workable format. Mathers, however, is generally credited with the design of the curriculum and rituals of the Second Order, which he called the Rosae Rubae et Aureae Crucis ("Ruby Rose and Golden Cross" or the RR et AC). Influences Influences on Golden Dawn concepts and work include: Christian mysticism, Qabalah, Hermeticism, the religion of Ancient Egypt, Theurgy, Freemasonry, Alchemy, Theosophy, Eliphas Levi,Papus, Enochian magic, and Renaissance grimoires. Founding of first temple In October 1887, Westcott purported to have written to Anna Sprengel, whose name and address he received through the decoding of the Cipher Manuscripts. Westcott claimed to receive a wise reply which conferred honorary grades of Adeptus Exemptus on Westcott, Mathers, and Woodman and chartered a Golden Dawn temple consisting of the five grades outlined in the manuscripts. In 1888, the Isis-Urania Temple was founded in London, where the rituals decoded from the cipher manuscripts were developed and practiced. In addition, there was an insistence on women being allowed to participate in the Order in "perfect equality" with men, in contrast to the S.R.I.A. and Masonry. This first lodge did not teach any magical practices per se (except for basic "banishing" rituals and meditation), but was rather a philosophical and metaphysical teaching order. It was called "the Outer Order" or "First Order" and for four years the Golden Dawn existed only in this order. The "Inner Order", which became active in 1892, was the circle of adepts who had completed the entire course of study for the Outer Order. This group eventually became known as the Second Order. In a short time, the Osiris temple in Weston-super-Mare, the Horus temple in Bradford, and the Amen-Ra temple in Edinburgh were founded. A few years after this, Mathers founded the Ahathoor temple in Paris. Secret Chiefs Main article: Secret Chiefs In 1891, Westcott's correspondence with Anna Sprengel suddenly ceased, and he received word from Germany either that she was dead or that her companions did not approve of the founding of the Order and no further contact was to be made. If the founders were to contact the Secret Chiefs, therefore, it had to be done on their own. In 1892, Mathers claimed a link to the Secret Chiefs had been formed and supplied rituals for the Second Order, called the Red Rose and Cross of Gold. These rituals were based on the tradition of the tomb of Christian Rosenkreuz, and a Vault of Adepts became the controlling force behind the Outer Order. Later in 1916, Westcott claimed that Mathers also constructed these rituals from materials he received from Frater Lux ex Tenebris, a purported Continental Adept. Some followers[who?] of the Golden Dawn tradition believe that the Secret Chiefs are not necessarily living humans or supernatural beings, but are rather symbolic of actual and legendary sources of spiritual esotericism, a great leader, or teacher of a spiritual path or practice that found its way into the teachings of the Order. Golden Age By the mid 1890s, the Golden Dawn was well established in Great Britain, with membership rising to over a hundred and including every class of Victorian society. In its heyday, many celebrities belonged to the Golden Dawn, such as actress Florence Farr, Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne, Irish writer William Butler Yeats, Welsh author Arthur Machen, English author Evelyn Underhill, and English author Aleister Crowley. Around 1897, Westcott broke all ties to the Golden Dawn, leaving Mathers in control. It is speculated that this was due to some occult papers having been found in a hansom cab, in which Westcott's connection to the Golden Dawn came to the attention of his superiors. He may have been told to either resign from the Order or to give up his occupation as coroner. After Westcott's departure, Mathers appointed Florence Farr to be Chief Adept in Anglia. Mathers was the only active founding member after Westcott's "departure". However, due to personality clashes with other members and absences from the center of Lodge activity in Great Britain, challenges to Mathers' authority as leader developed among the members of the Second Order. Revolt Towards the end of 1899, the Adepts of the Isis-Urania and Amen-Ra temples had become dissatisfied with Mathers' leadership as well as his growing friendship with Crowley. They were also anxious to make contact with the Secret Chiefs themselves, instead of relying on Mathers. Among the personal disagreements within the Isis-Urania temple, disputes were arising from Florence Farr's The Sphere, a secret society within the IsisUrania, and the rest of the Adepts Minor. Crowley was refused initiation into the Adeptus Minor grade by the London officials. Mathers overrode their decision and quickly initiated him at the Ahathoor temple in Paris on January 16, 1900. Upon his return to the London temple, Crowley requested the grade papers to which he was now entitled from Miss Cracknell, the acting secretary. To the London Adepts, this was the last straw. Farr, already of the opinion that the London temple should be closed, wrote to Mathers expressing her wish to resign as his representative, though she was willing to carry on until a successor was found. Mathers replied on February 16, believing Westcott was behind this turn of events. Once the other Adepts in London were notified, they elected a committee of seven on March 3 and requested a full investigation of the matter. Mathers sent an immediate reply, declining to provide proof, refusing to acknowledge the London temple, and dismissing Farr as his representative on March 23. In response, a general meeting was called on March 29 in London to remove Mathers as chief and expel him from the Order. Splinters In 1901, W. B. Yeats privately published a pamphlet titled Is the Order of R. R. & A. C. to Remain a Magical Order? After the Isis-Urania temple claimed its independence, there were even more disputes, leading to Yeats resigning. A committee of three was to temporarily govern, which included P.W. Bullock, M.W. Blackden and J. W. Brodie-Innes. After a short time, Bullock resigned, and Dr. Robert Felkin took his place. In 1903, A.E. Waite and Blackden joined forces to retain the name Isis-Urania, while Felkin and other London members formed the Stella Matutina, Yeats remaining in it until 1921, and Brodie-Innes continued his Amen-Ra temple in Edinburgh. Reconstruction Once Mathers realised that reconciliation was impossible, he made efforts to reestablish himself in London. The Bradford and Weston-super-Mare temples remained loyal to him, but their numbers were few. He then appointed Edward Berridge as his representative. According to Francis King, historical evidence shows that there were "twenty three members of a flourishing Second Order under Berridge-Mathers in 1913." J.W. Brodie-Innes continued leading the Amen-Ra temple, deciding that the revolt was unjustified. By 1908, Mathers and Brodie-Innes were in complete accord. According to sources that differ regarding the actual date, sometime between 1901 and 1913 Mathers renamed the branch of the Golden Dawn remaining loyal to his leadership to Alpha et Omega. Brodie-Innes assumed command of the English and Scottish temples, while Mathers concentrated on building up his Ahathoor temple and extending his American connections. According to occultist Israel Regardie, the Golden Dawn had spread to the United States of America before 1900 and a Thoth-Hermes temple had been founded in Chicago. By the beginning of the First World War in 1914, Mathers had established two to three American temples. Most temples of the Alpha et Omega and Stella Matutina closed or went into abeyance by the end of the 1930s, with the exceptions of two Stella Matutina temples: Hermes Temple in Bristol, which operated sporadically until 1970, and the Whare Ra in Havelock North, New Zealand, which operated regularly until its closure in 1978. Structure and grades Rosy Cross of the Golden Dawn Much of the hierarchical structure for the Golden dawn came from the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, which was itself derived from the Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross. First Order Introduction—Neophyte 0=0 Zelator 1=10 Theoricus 2=9 Practicus 3=8 Philosophus 4=7 Intermediate—Portal Grade Second Order Adeptus Minor 5=6 Adeptus Major 6=5 Adeptus Exemptus 7=4 Third Order Magister Templi 8=3 Magus 9=2 Ipsissimus 10=1 The paired numbers attached to the Grades relate to positions on the Tree of Life. The Neophyte Grade of "0=0" indicates no position on the Tree. In the other pairs, the first numeral is the number of steps up from the bottom (Malkuth), and the second numeral is the number of steps down from the top (Kether). The First Order Grades were related to the four elements of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire, respectively. The Aspirant to a Grade received instruction on the metaphysical meaning of each of these Elements and had to pass a written examination and demonstrate certain skills to receive admission to that Grade. The Portal Grade was an "Invisible" or in-between grade separating the First Order from the Second Order. The Circle of existing Adepts from the Second Order had to consent to allow an Aspirant to be initiated as an Adept and join the Second Order. The Second Order was not, properly, part of the "Golden Dawn", but a separate Order in its own right, known as the R.R. et A.C. The Second Order directed the teachings of the First Order and was the governing force behind the First Order. After passing the Portal, the Aspirant was instructed in the techniques of practical magic. When another examination was passed, and the other Adepts consented, the Aspirant attained the Grade of Adeptus Minor (5=6). There were also four sub-Grades of instruction for the Adeptus Minor, again relating to the four Outer Order grades. A member of the Second Order had the power and authority to initiate aspirants to the First Order, though usually not without the permission of the Chiefs of his or her Lodge. Golden Dawn book The Golden Dawn as system and book has been the most intensively used source for modern western occult and magical writing. As a book it is both a text and an encyclopedia. Knights Templar (Freemasonry) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This article lacks historical information on the subject. Please help to add historical material to help counter systemic bias towards recent information. (May 2012) A cross and crown laid upon a cross pattée inscribed with "In Hoc Signo Vinces" resting upon downward pointing swords insaltire is often used to represent the Knights Templar. (The various symbols used allude to the orders of the body, though the cross and crown is often used alone as well.) This article is part of or related to the Knights Templar series Knights Templar History of the Knights Templar Knights Templar legends Knights Templar Seal Grand Masters of the Knights Templar Knights Templar in England Knights Templar in Scotland List of Knights Templar List of Knights Templar sites Modern associations Knights Templar (Freemasonry) Part of a series of articles on Freemasonry Core articles Freemasonry · Grand Lodge · Masonic Lodge · Masonic Lodge Officers · Grand Master · Prince Hall Freemasonry · Regular Masonic jurisdictions · Continental Freemasonry History History of Freemasonry · Liberté chérie ·Masonic manuscripts [show] Masonic bodies [show] Views of Masonry [show] People and places [show] Other related articles This box: view talk edit This page is about a Masonic organization. For the medieval Knights Templar, see Knights Templar. See also Knights Templar and popular culture. The Knights Templar is an international philanthropic chivalric order affiliated with Freemasonry. Unlike the initial degrees conferred in a Masonic Lodge, which only require a belief in aSupreme Being regardless of religious affiliation, the Knights Templar is one of several additional Masonic Orders in which membership is open only to Freemasons who profess a belief in theChristian religion. The full title of this Order is The United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta. The word "United" in this title indicates that more than one historical tradition and more than one actual Order are jointly controlled within this system. The individual Orders 'united' within this system are principally the Knights of the Temple (Knights Templar), the Knights of Malta, the Knights of St Paul, and only within the York Rite, the Knights of the Red Cross. The Order derives its name from the historical Knights Templar. One theory of the origins of Freemasonry claims direct descent from the historical Knights Templar through its final fourteenth-century members who took refuge in Scotland, or other countries where the Templar suppression was not enforced. Although the theory may not be dismissed, it is usually deprecated on grounds of lack of evidence by both masonic authorities and historians. Contents [hide] 1 Administration o 1.1 Knights Templar as a part of the York Rite o 1.2 Knights Templar as an Independent Body 2 The Degrees or Orders o 2.1 The Degree of Knight of the Temple (Order of the Temple) o 2.2 The Degree of Knight of Malta (Order of Malta) o 2.3 The Degree of Knight of St Paul (Order of St Paul) o 2.4 The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross (Order of the Red Cross) 3 Templar traditions 4 See also 5 References 6 Notes 7 External links o 7.1 Masonic Knights Templar organizations Administration Knights Templar can exist either as part of the York Rite or as an independent organization. Though the York Rite and the independent versions share many similarities there are key differences which are described below. Knights Templar as a part of the York Rite Main article: York Rite A Knights Templar commandery is traditionally the final body that a member joins in the York Rite after the chapter of Royal Arch Masons and a council of Royal & Select Masters. Some jurisdictions, however, allow members to skip over membership in a council. A local Knights Templar commandery operates under a state-level Grand Commandery, however Americancommanderies also operate under The Grand Encampment of the United States. This is unique among American Masonic bodies, as most report to the state level alone. While a chapter bestows the Royal Arch degrees, and a council bestows the Cryptic degrees, a Knights Templar commandery bestows three orders and one passing order onto its members. This is opposed to the standard degree system found elsewhere in Freemasonry, and they are the only ones not to deal with the Hiramic Legend. The York Rite orders are: The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross The Passing Order of St. Paul, (or Mediterranean Pass) The Order of the Knights of Malta (or simply Order of Malta) The Order of the Temple Knights Templar as an Independent Body The Cross pattée, symbol of the Order of the Temple in the independent body. Outside the York Rite, membership is by invitation only. Candidates are required to be Master Masons, and Royal Arch Masons, and to sign a declaration that they profess the Doctrine of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. In some Australian States, the requirement of being a Royal Arch Mason no longer applies. Local bodies of Knights Templar are known as Preceptories; local bodies of Knights of St Paul are known as Chapters; local bodies of Knights of Malta are known as Priories; all operate under a Grand or Great Priory, often with an intermediate level of Provincial Priories. Although some jurisdictions maintain a separate Great Priory of the Temple and Great Priory of Malta (as, for example, in England), the Grand Master and other officers of both Great Priories hold simultaneous equal office in both bodies. Three degrees are administered in this system: The Degree of Knight Templar (Order of the Temple) The Degree of Knight of St. Paul (incorporating the Mediterranean Pass) The Degree of Knight of Malta (Order of Malta) The Degrees or Orders The Cross and Crown, symbol of the Order of the Temple as found in the York Rite. The Degree of Knight of the Temple (Order of the Temple) The original medieval Order of Knights Templar was established after the First Crusade, and existed from approximately 1118 to 1312. There is no known historical evidence to link the medieval Knights Templar and Masonic Templarism, nor do the Masonic Knights Templar organizations claim any such direct link to the original medieval Templar organization. Though it has been said that its affiliation with Masonry is based on texts that indicate persecuted Templars found refuge within the safety of Freemasonry, the order itself states that "there is no proof of direct connection between the ancient order and the modern order known today as the Knights Templar." The official motto of the Knights Templar is In Hoc Signo Vinces, the rendition in Latin of the Greek phrase "εν τούτῳ νίκα", en toutōi nika, meaning "in this [sign] you will conquer". The Knight Templar degree is associated with elaborate regalia (costume) the precise detail of which varies between nations. The ritual draws upon the traditions of medieval Knights Templar, using them to impart moral instruction consistent with the biblical teachings of the Christian tradition. The Degree of Knight of Malta (Order of Malta) The Maltese Cross, symbol of the Order of Malta. This degree is universally associated with the Masonic Knights Templar. In the York Rite system it is conferred before the Templar Degree; in the 'stand-alone' tradition it is conferred subsequently to the Templar Degree. It is known by varying degrees of formality as the Order of Malta, or the Order of Knights of Malta, or the Ancient and Masonic Order of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes, and Malta. In practice this last and fullest version of the name tends to be reserved to letterheads, rituals, and formal documents. The ceremony for conferring the degree (which is always worked in full) contains a mixture of masonic tradition, historical accounts of the Order of St John, moral teaching, and the communication of modes of recognition between members. A series of banners is employed in the ceremony, each representing one of the great battles of the historic medieval Order of St John, whose story is the basis of the moral teachings of the degree. The Degree of Knight of St Paul (Order of St Paul) Two downward pointing swords insaltire, symbol of the Order of St Paul. This degree is conferred as a prerequisite to becoming a Knight of Malta, in both the York Rite and independent 'stand-alone' versions of Knight Templar Freemasonry. The "Preliminary Declarations" of the Order of Malta ritual in England state of a candidate for the Order of Malta: "He must also have received the Degree of Knight of St Paul, including the Mediterranean Pass". The exact status of the 'Mediterranean Pass' has at times led to confusion as to whether this is the 'stub' of a separate degree. The English ritual book clarified this in its 1989 edition (and subsequent editions) by stating: "The Mediterranean Pass is one of the secrets of the Degree of Knight of St Paul". This degree is close to being a true 'side degree', in that a small group (usually three) of members of the degree take the candidate "to one side" (i.e. apart on his own) and simply communicate the secrets of the degree to him, without actually working the ceremonial ritual of the degree. The only respect in which the degree fails to meet the definition of a true 'side degree' is that a Chapter of the Order is formally opened and closed by the presiding officer, on either side of the secrets being communicated. The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross (Order of the Red Cross) Unique to the York Rite, the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross continues or reverts to the period of the Royal Arch Degree when the Israelites were returning from Babylon to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.Zerubbabel, their leader prevails upon King Darius to restore the Holy Vessels to the new Temple. They had been carried away by the Babylonian armies when the first Temple was destroyed. In presenting his plea before the King, the companion gives a powerful testimony to the almighty force of Truth. The ritual places the candidate in the role of Zerubbabel and follows him through his journey to King Darius and his role in the Immemorial Discussion, as found in the apocryphal book, 1 Esdras. The purpose is to bridge the gap between Royal Arch Masonry, and the Chivalric Orders as well the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross teaches the lessons of the triumph of truth. This Order is often considered a compressed version of the Order of Knight Masons. It should not be confused with the Masonic Order known as the Red Cross of Constantine. Templar traditions Induction day 2009 Despite Freemasonry's general disclaimer that no one Masonic organization claims a direct heritage to the medieval Knights Templar, certain degrees and orders are obviously patterned after the medieval Order. These are best described as "commemorative orders" or degrees. Nevertheless, in spite of the fraternity's official disclaimers, some Masons, non-Masons and even anti-Masons insist that certain Masonic rites or degrees originally had direct Templar influence. American Masonic youth organizations such as the Order of DeMolay for young men are named after the last Grand Master Templar Jacques de Molay who was executed in the final suppression of the Templar order in the early 14th century. The Knight of Rose-Croix Degree in the "Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite", and honorary Orders like the Royal Order of Scotland are interpreted as evidence of a historical Templar-Masonic connection, though there is no factual basis for this belief. Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh has been suggested to be strong link between the Knights Templar and Freemasons due to reliefs combining Templar and Freemason symbolism. Rosslyn Chapel was indeed founded by William Sinclair, 1st Earl of Caithness. Legends in certain degrees pertain to the involvement of Knights Under the command of Sir John De Bermingham, First and Last Earl of Louth aiding the excommunicated 14th CenturyScottish King Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn; however this is based on 18th century romance and is not supported by any evidence. This story is the basis for the degrees in theRoyal Order of Scotland an invitational Masonic honorary organization. Templar connections have also been suggested through the Earls of Rosslyn (St. Clair, or Sinclair) a family with well documented connections with Scottish Freemasonry, one being a Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Many other old and new organizations are called "Knights Templar". However, organizations like the Order of the Solar Temple, Militi Templi Scotia,or the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem are in no way related to Masonic Knights Templar, and share no relationship in either history, hierarchy, nor ritual. Illuminati From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducingmore precise citations. (April 2012) Adam Weishaupt, founder of the Bavarian Illuminati This article is about the group. For the film, see Illuminata (film). For other uses, see Illuminati (disambiguation). The Illuminati (plural of Latin illuminatus, "enlightened") is a name given to several groups, both real (historical) and fictitious. Historically the name refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, anEnlightenment-era secret society founded on May 1, 1776. In more modern contexts the name refers to a purported conspiratorial organization which is alleged to mastermind events and control world affairs through , 1776. In more modgovernments and corporations to establish a New World Order. In this context the Illuminati are usually represented as a modern version or continuation of the Bavarian Illuminati. Contents [hide] 1 History 2 Organisation 3 Members 4 Barruel and Robison 5 Modern conspiracy theory 6 Modern Illuminati 7 Popular culture o 7.1 Novels 8 References 9 Other Reading 10 External links History The movement was founded on May 1, 1776, in , 1776, in Ingolstadt (Upper Bavaria) as the Order of the Illuminati, with an initial membership of five, by Jesuit-taught Adam Weishaupt (d. 1830), who was the first lay professor ofcanon law at the University of Ingolstadt. It was made up of freethinkers as an offshoot of the Enlightenment and seems to have been modeled on the Freemasons. The Illuminati's members took a vow of secrecy and pledged obedience to their superiors. Members were divided into three main classes, each with several degrees, and many Illuminati chapters drew membership from existing Masonic lodges. Originally Weishaupt had planned the order to be named the "Perfectibilists". The group has also been called the Bavarian Illuminati and its ideology has been called "Illuminism". Many influential intellectuals and progressive politicians counted themselves as members, including Ferdinand of Brunswick and the diplomat Xavier von Zwack, the second-in-command of the order. The order had branches in most European countries: it reportedly had around 2,000members over the span of ten years. It attracted literary men such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Johann Gottfried Herder and the reigning dukes of Gotha and Weimar. In 1777 Karl Theodor became ruler of Bavaria. He was a proponent of Enlightened Despotism and his government banned all secret societies including the Illuminati. Internal rupture and panic over succession preceded its downfall, which was affected by the Secular Edict made by the Bavarian government. The March 2, 1785 edict "seems to have been deathblow to the Illuminati in Bavaria." Weishaupt had fled and documents and internal correspondences, seized in 1786 and 1787, were subsequently published by the government in 1787.5 edict "seems to have been deathblow to the Illuminati in Bavaria." Weishaupt had fled and documents and internal correspondences, seized in 1786 1786 and 1787, were subsequently published by the government in 1787.6 and 1787, were subsequently published by the government in 1787.1787, were subsequently published by the government in 1787.7, were subsequently published by the government in 1787.1787. Von Zwack's home was searched to disclose much of the group's literature. Another reorganisation took place in 1780 after the Lower Saxon noble Adolph Freiherr Knigge joined the Illuminati. In 1782 he gave a structure similar to the Freemason lodges to the order that had until that point, as Weishaupt himself conceded, not actually existed anywhere but in Weishaupt's head. Leadership of the order was given to a so-called Areopagus that consisted of Weishaupt, Knigge and others. This new organisation allowed the Illuminati to recruit numerous Freemasons and infiltrate entire lodges against the backdrop of a crisis that the higher grades of the German Freemasonry were going through after the collapse of the Order of Strict Observance in 1776. This relatively apolitical and romanticising movement claimed succession from the Knights Templar and had enabled Karl Gotthelf von Hund to get the German lodges under his leadership. For years he had been claiming to be in contact with "Unknown Superiors" who had let him in on the deepest secret of Freemasonry. However, after no such "Secret Superiors" contacted the lodges after Hund's death in1776, the lodge members were perplexed. At the great Freemasons' Convent of the Strict Observance, that was held in Wilhelmsbad from July 16 to September 1, 1782, Knigge and Franz Dietrich von Ditfurth, the second Illuminati representative and a most radical proponent of the Enlightenment, could claim the opinion leadership for their order. The templar system was given up and the Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross, itself trying to succeed the Order of Strict Observance, remained in the minority. The two Illuminati even succeeded in winning over Johann Christoph Bode, one of the leading representatives of the Strict Observance.776, the lodge members were perplexed. At the great Freemasons' Convent of the Strict Observance, that was held in Wilhelmsbad from July 16 to September 1, 1782, Knigge and Franz Dietrich von Ditfurth, the second Illuminati representative and a most radical proponent of the Enlightenment, could claim the opinion leadership for their order. The templar system was given up and the Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross, itself trying to succe6 to September 1, 1782, Knigge and Franz Dietrich von Ditfurth, the second Illuminati representative and a most radical proponent of the Enlightenment, could claim the opinion leadership for their order. The templar system was given up and the Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross, itself trying to succeed the Order of Strict Observance, remained in the minority. The two Illuminati even succeeded in winning over Johann Christoph Bode, one of the leading representatives of the Strict Observance.6 to September 1, 1782, Knigge and Franz Dietrich von Ditfurth, the second Illuminati representative and a most radical proponent of the Enlightenment, could claim the opinion leadership for their order. The templar system was given up and the Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross, itself trying to succeed the Order of Strict Observance, remained in the minority. The two Illuminati even succeeded in winning over Johann Christoph Bode, one of the leading r, 1782, Knigge and Franz Dietrich von Ditfurth, the second Illuminati representative and a most radical proponent of the Enlightenment, could claim the opinion leadership for their order. The templar system was given up and the Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross, itself trying to succeed the Order of Strict Observance, remained in the minority. The two Illuminati even succeeded in winning over Johann Christoph Bode, one of the leading representatives of the Strict Observance., 1782, Knigge and Franz Dietrich von Ditfurth, the second Illuminati representative and a most radical proponent of the Enlightenment, could claim the opinion leadership for their order. The templar system was given up and the Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross, itself trying to succeed the Order of Strict Observance, remained in the minority. The two Illuminati even succeeded in winning over Johann Christoph Bode, one of the leading representatives of t As a result, the disagreement between Weishaupt and Knigge intensified so much that it threatened to break the Order apart. Therefore an arbitral tribunal called a ―Congress― was convened in Weimar in February 1784. It came as a surprise for Knigge that the "Congress", in which among others Goethe, Johann Gottfried Herder and Duke Ernst of Saxe-Gotha participated, judged that a completely new Areopagus should be created. Both heads of the Order were supposed to resign from their positions of power. This seemed to be an acceptable compromise. It meant an obvious defeat for Knigge, as the founder of the order would probably still have the same influence even without the formal chairmanship of the Aeropagus. Silence and the return of all papers was agreed upon and Knigge left the Illuminati on the first of July 1784. From this point on he turned away from the "fashionable foolishness" of trying to improve the world with secret societies. Weishaupt for his part handed over the leadership of the Order to Johann Martin Count of Stolberg-Roßla. While members of societies were quarrelling amongst themselves, secret societies had attracted the attention of the Bavarian authorities. They deemed the objectives of progressive-minded secret societies suspicious because they concentrated on changing the traditional order and on establishing a "rational state" by infiltrating public offices. On June 22, 1784, the Bavarian electoral Prince Charles Theodore consequently prohibited any "communities, societies and associations", which had been founded without his approval as a sovereign ruler. With the insistence of Father Frank, the chancellor Baron of Krettmayr, the Rosicrucian Baron of Törring and other people at court, another edict was released on March 2, 1785, which explicitely mentioned the names Illuminati and Freemason. It banned them for reason of treason and heresy. During house searches various documents of the order that showed further circumstantial evidence for their radical objectives were confiscated. Documents which were found with a deceased courier gave away information about names of several members. In two letters to the bishop of Freising, sent within the same year (June 18 and November 12), Pope Pius VI declared membership of the order to be incompatible with the Catholic faith., 1785, which explicitely mentioned the names Illuminati and Freemason. It banned them for reason of treason and heresy. During house searches various documents of the order that showed further circumstantial evidence for their radical objectives were confiscated. Documents which were found with a deceased courier gave away information about names of several members. In two letters to the bishop of Freising, sent within the same year (June 18 and November 12), Pope Pius VI declared membership of the order to be incompatible with the Catholic faith., 1785, Organisation The most valuable secret of the Illuminati was their own moral system of authority, which was already practiced inside the order, but was now supposed to be applied on the outside world. The deceit and patronizing of the lower-positioned members soon provoked disagreements within the order. This was caused by Weishaupt's aim to perfect the individual by encouraging it to practice more self-discipline and covert leadership. He assumed that for the improvement of the individual the first necessary step was to know its secrets. Probably, he adopted this concept from his arch-enemy, the Jesuits, which were known for their slavish obedience and their gentle but still effective leadership by means of confession. Actually, according to Illuminati-expert Agethen, the order stayed in a dialectic entanglement with its opponents: they used Jesuit methods of investigating the conscience in order to emancipate the individual from the intellectual and spiritual domination of the church; they also used a ranking system and mystical fuss, similar to the enthusiastic irrationality of the Rosicrucians, to further the success of Enlightenment and rationality. They subjected their members to an utterly totalitarian monitoring and psychological techniques in order to ultimately free mankind of the despotism of princes and kings. Members This temporary success cannot hide the fact that the Illuminati order mainly consisted of quite subordinate academics who maybe joined the order especially in the hope of more career opportunities. Indeed their hope correlated with Weishaupt’s concept of infiltration. Of course new members were ignorant about those intentions. The order hardly achieved its actual aim, namely to form the intellectual and political elite of society. Apart from the mentioned exceptions (Goethe, Herder, Knigge), all the really important representatives of the German "Spätaufklärung" either completely absented themselves from the order (as Schiller, Kant, Lessing, but also Lavater whom Knigge unsuccessfully tried to convince of joining for a long time) or shortly afterwards quit, just as Friedrich Nicolai did, out of disappointment about the rigid structures within the order. ―Bookworm Weishaupt and his companions, utopists in a good and a ridiculous way‖ were never considered a real threat for the state of Bavaria but ―the challenge for the old regimes was of course still too strong, even in this moderate form.‖ Barruel and Robison Between 1797 and 1798 Augustin Barruel's Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism and John Robison's Proofs of a Conspiracy both publicized the theory that the Illuminati had survived and represented an ongoing international conspiracy, including the claim that it was behind the French Revolution. Both books proved to be very popular, spurring reprints and paraphrases by others (a prime example is Proofs of the Real Existence, and Dangerous Tendency, Of Illuminism by Reverend Seth Payson, published in 1802). Some response was critical, such as Jean-Joseph Mounier's On the Influence Attributed to Philosophers, Free-Masons, and to the Illuminati on the Revolution of France. Robison and Barruel's works made their way to the United States. Across New England, Reverend Jedidiah Morse and others sermonized against the Illuminati, their sermons were printed, and the matter followed in newspapers. The concern died down in the first decade of the 1800s, though had some revival during the AntiMasonic movement of the 1820s and 30s. Modern conspiracy theory Main article: New World Order (conspiracy theory) - Illuminati Writers such as Mark Dice, David Icke, Texe Marrs, Ryan Burke, Jüri Lina and Morgan Gricar have argued that the Bavarian Illuminati survived, possibly to this day. Many of these theories propose that world events are being controlled and manipulated by a secret society calling itself the Illuminati. Conspiracy theorists have claimed that many notable people were or are members of the Illuminati. Presidents of the United States are a common target for such claims. A key figure in the conspiracy theory movement, Myron Fagan, devoted his latter years to finding evidence that a variety of historical events from Waterloo, The French Revolution, President John F. Kennedy's assassination and an alleged communist plot to hasten the New World Order by infiltrating the Hollywood film industry, were all orchestrated by the Illuminati. Modern Illuminati In addition to the supposed shadowy and secret organization, several modern fraternal groups claim to be the "heirs" of the Bavarian Illuminati and have openly used the name "Illuminati" in founding their own rites. Some, such as the multiple groups that call themselves by some variation on "The Illuminati Order", use the name directly in the name of their organization, while others, such as the Ordo Templi Orientis, use the name as a grade of initiation within their organization. Bilderberg Group From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Redirected from Bilderberg group) Bilderberg Group Hotel de Bilderberg (2007), name-giving location of the first conference in 1954 Formation 29 May 1954 (57 years ago) Membership ~150 invitees, smaller core group Chairmen of the Steering Henri de Castries Committee Website www.bilderbergmeetings.org The Bilderberg Group, Bilderberg conference, or Bilderberg Club is an annual, unofficial, invitation-only conference of approximately 120 to 140 guests from North America and Western Europe, most of whom are people of influence. About one-third are from government and politics, and two-thirds from finance, industry, labour, education and communications. Meetings are closed to the public. Contents [hide] 1 Origin 2 Role 3 Organizational structure o 3.1 Chairmen of the Steering Committee 4 Participants 5 Recent meetings 6 Privacy 7 Conspiracy theories 8 See also 9 References 10 Further reading 11 External links Origin The original conference was held at the Hotel de Bilderberg, near Arnhem in the Netherlands, from 29 to 31 May 1954. It was initiated by several people, including Polish politicians Józef Retinger and Andrew Nielsen, concerned about the growth of anti-Americanism in Western Europe, who proposed an international conference at which leaders from European countries and the United States would be brought together with the aim of promoting Atlanticism – better understanding between the cultures of the United States and Western Europe to foster cooperation on political, economic, and defense issues. Retinger approached Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands who agreed to promote the idea, together with former Belgian Prime Minister Paul Van Zeeland, and the head of Unilever at that time, Dutchman Paul Rijkens. Bernhard in turn contacted Walter Bedell Smith, then head of the CIA, who asked Eisenhower adviser Charles Douglas Jackson to deal with the suggestion. The guest list was to be drawn up by inviting two attendees from each nation, one of each to represent conservative and liberal points of view. Fifty delegates from 11 countries in Western Europe attended the first conference, along with 11 Americans. The success of the meeting led the organizers to arrange an annual conference. A permanent Steering Committee was established, with Retinger appointed as permanent secretary. As well as organizing the conference, the steering committee also maintained a register of attendee names and contact details, with the aim of creating an informal network of individuals who could call upon one another in a private capacity. Conferences were held in France, Germany, and Denmark over the following three years. In 1957, the first US conference was held in St. Simons, Georgia, with $30,000 from the Ford Foundation. The foundation supplied further funding for the 1959 and 1963 conferences. Role The role of the Bilderberg meetings in the flow of events since its founding in 1954 is a matter of debate among scholars and journalists, such as G. William Domhoff and Caroline Moorehead. In his 1980 essay The Bilderberg and the West, researcher Peter Thompson argues that the Bilderberg group is a meeting ground for top executives from the world’s leading multinational corporations and top national political figures to consider jointly the immediate and long-term problems facing the West. According to Thompson, Bilderberg itself is not an executive agency. However, when Bilderberg participants reach a form of consensus about what is to be done, they have at their disposal powerful transnational and national instruments for bringing about what it is they want to come to pass. That their consensus design is not always achieved is a reflection of the strength of competing resisting forces outside the capitalist ruling class and within it. Organizational structure Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld in 1942 Meetings are organized by a steering committee with two members from each of approximately 18 nations. Official posts, in addition to a chairman, include an Honorary Secretary General. There is no such category in the group's rules as a "member of the group". The only category that exists is "member of the Steering Committee". In addition to the committee, there also exists a separate advisory group, though membership overlaps. Dutch economist Ernst van der Beugel became permanent secretary in 1960, upon Retinger's death. Prince Bernhard continued to serve as the meeting's chairman until 1976, the year of his involvement in the Lockheed affair. The position of Honorary American Secretary General has been held successively by Joseph E. Johnson of the Carnegie Endowment, William Bundyof Princeton, Theodore L. Eliot, Jr., former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, and Casimir A. Yost of Georgetown's Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. A 2008 press release from the 'American Friends of Bilderberg' stated that "Bilderberg's only activity is its annual Conference. At the meetings, no resolutions are proposed, no votes taken, and no policy statements issued" and noted that the names of attendees were available to the press. The Bilderberg group's unofficial headquarters is the University of Leiden in theNetherlands. According to the 'American Friends of Bilderberg', the 2008 agenda dealt "mainly with a nuclear free world, cyber terrorism, Africa, Russia, finance, protectionism, US-EU relations,Afghanistan and Pakistan, Islam and Iran". Chairmen of the Steering Committee Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld (1954–1975) Walter Scheel (1975–1977) Alec Douglas-Home (1977–1980) Eric Roll, Baron Roll of Ipsden (1986–1989) Peter Carington, 6th Baron Carrington (1990–1998) Étienne Davignon (1998–2001) Henri de Castries (since 2001) Participants Main article: List of Bilderberg participants Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernankeleaving the 2008 Bilderberg Conference Historically, attendee lists have been weighted towards bankers, politicians, and directors of large businesses. Heads of state, including Juan Carlos I of Spain and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, have attended meetings. Prominent politicians from North America and Europe are past attendees. In past years, board members from many large publicly-traded corporations have attended, including IBM, Xerox, Royal Dutch Shell, Nokia and Daimler. The 2009 meeting participants in Greece included: Greek prime minister Kostas Karamanlis; Finnish prime minister Matti Vanhanen; Sweden foreign minister Carl Bildt; United StatesDeputy Secretary of State James Steinberg; U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; World Bank president Robert Zoellick; European Commission head José Manuel Barroso; Queen Sofia of Spain; and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. In 2009 the group hosted a dinner meeting at Castle of the Valley of the Duchess in Brussels on 12 November to promote the candidacy of Herman Van Rompuy for President of the European Council. The membership of the Bilderberg group is drawn largely from West European and North American countries. Writing in 1980, policy analyst Holly Sklar noted that, from the 1950s, elites in the West became concerned that the United Nations was no longer controlled by Western powers, and that this concern was expressed in the participant selection process of the Bilderberg group. Sklar also quoted observations from human rights journalist Caroline Moorehead in a 1977 article critical of the Bilderberg group's membership, who in turn quoted an unnamed member of the group: "No invitations go out to representatives of the developing countries. 'Otherwise you simply turn us into a mini-United-Nations, said one person [a Bilderberger] with scorn. And more revealingly, 'we are looking for like-thinking people and compatible people. It would be worse to have a club of dopes.'" In her article, Moorehead characterized the group as "heavily biased towards politics of moderate conservatism and big business" and claims that the "farthest left is represented by a scattering of central social democrats". Recent meetings Main article: List of Bilderberg meetings Recent meetings: 2005 (5–8 May) at the Dorint Sofitel Seehotel Überfahrt in Rottach-Egern, Germany 2006 (8–11 June) at the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 2007 (31 May – 3 June) at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, in Şişli, Istanbul, Turkey. 2008 (5–8 June) at the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, Virginia, United States 2009 (14–16 May) at the Astir Palace resort in Athens, Greece 2010 (3–7 June) at the Hotel Dolce in Sitges, Spain 2011 (9–12 June) at the Suvretta House in St. Moritz, Switzerland Privacy The meeting hotels are inaccessible for any other guest for the full period of the conferences and sentineled by private security staffs as well as by local police authorities and secret services. During the Bilderberg Meeting at Vouliagmeni(Greece) in 2009, for instance, the British The Guardian reporter Charlie Skelton was arrested twice after having taken pictures of vehicles. Conspiracy theories According to chairman Étienne Davignon, a major attraction of Bilderberg group meetings is that they provide an opportunity for participants to speak and debate candidly and to find out what major figures really think, without the risk of off-the-cuff comments becoming fodder for controversy in the media. However, partly because of its working methods to ensure strict privacy, the Bilderberg group is accused of conspiracies. This outlook has been popular on both extremes of the political spectrum, even if they disagree on what the group wants to do. Some on the left accuse the Bilderberg group of conspiring to impose capitalist domination, while some on the right have accused the group of conspiring to impose a world government and planned economy. Politico journalist Kenneth P. Vogel reports that it is the "exclusive roster of globally influential figures that has captured the interest of an international network of conspiracists," who for decades have seen the Bilderberg meetings as a "corporate-globalist scheme", and are convinced powerful elites are moving the planet toward an oligarchic ―new world order‖. He goes on to state that these conspiracist's "populist paranoid worldview", characterized by a suspicion of the ruling class rather than any prevailing partisan or ideological affiliation, is widely articulated on overnight AM radio shows and numerous Internet websites. Proponents of Bilderberg conspiracy theories in the United States include individuals and groups such as the John Birch Society, political activist Phyllis Schlafly, writer Jim Tucker, political activist Lyndon LaRouche, radio host Alex Jones, and politician Jesse Ventura, who made the Bilderberg group a topic of a 2009 episode of his TruTV series Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura. Non-American proponents include Russian-Canadian writer Daniel Estulin. In 2001, Denis Healey, a Bilderberg group founder and, for 30 years, a steering committee member, said: "To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair. Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn't go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people and rendering millions homeless. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing." In 2005 Davignon discussed these accusations with theBBC: "It is unavoidable and it doesn't matter. There will always be people who believe in conspiracies but things happen in a much more incoherent fashion... When people say this is a secret government of the world I say that if we were a secret government of the world we should be bloody ashamed of ourselves." In a 1994 report Right Woos Left, published by the Political Research Associates, investigative journalist Chip Berlet argued that right-wing populist conspiracy theories about the Bilderberg group date back as early as 1964 and can be found in Schlafly's self-published book A Choice, Not an Echo, which promoted a conspiracy theory in which the Republican Party was secretly controlled by elitist intellectuals dominated by members of the Bilderberger group, whose internationalist policies would pave the way for world communism. Also, in August 2010 former Cuban president Fidel Castro wrote an article for the Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma in which he cited Daniel Estulin’s 2006 book The Secrets of the Bilderberg Club, which, as quoted by Castro, describes "sinister cliques and the Bilderberg lobbyists" manipulating the public "to install a world government that knows no borders and is not accountable to anyone but its own self." G. William Domhoff, a research professor in psychology and sociology who studies theories of power, sees the role of international relations forums and social clubs such as the Bilderberg group as a place to share ideas, reachconsensus, and create social cohesion within a power elite. He adds that this understanding of forums and clubs such as the Bilderberg group fits with the perceptions of the members of the elite. Domhoff warns progressives against getting distracted by conspiracy theories which demonize and scapegoat such forums and clubs. He argues that the opponents of progressivism in the United States are conservatives within the corporate elite and the Republican Party. It is more or less the same people who belong to forums and clubs such as the Bilderberg group, but it puts them in their most important roles, as capitalists and political leaders, which are visible and therefore easier to fight. Author James McConnachie comments that conspiracy theorists have a point, but that they fail to communicate it effectively. He argues that the Bilderberg group acts in a manner consistent with a global conspiracy, but does so without the same "degree of nefariousness", a difference not appreciated by conspiracy theorists, who "tend to see this cabal as outright evil." McConnachie concludes: "Occasionally you have to give credit to conspiracy theorists who raise issues that the mainstream press has ignored. It's only recently that the media has picked up on the Bilderbergers. Would the media be running stories if there weren't these wild allegations flying around?" Priory of Sion From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Redirected from Priory of sion) The official emblem of the Priory of Sion is partly based on the fleur-de-lis, which was a symbol particularly associated with the French monarchy. The Prieuré de Sion, translated from French as Priory of Sion, is a name given to multiple groups, both real and fictitious. The most controversial is a fringe fraternal organisation, founded and dissolved in France in 1956 by Pierre Plantard. In the 1960s, Plantard created a fictitious history for that organisation, describing it as a secret society founded by Godfrey of Bouillon on Mount Zion in the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1099, conflating it with a genuine historical monastic order, the Abbey of Our Lady of Mount Zion, which is devoted to installing a secret bloodline of theMerovingian dynasty on the thrones of France and the rest of Europe. This myth was expanded upon and popularised by the 1982 pseudohistorical book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grailand later claimed as factual in the preface of the 2003 conspiracy fiction novel The Da Vinci Code. After becoming a cause célèbre from the late 1960s to the 1980s, the mythical Priory of Sion was exposed as a ludibrium created by Plantard as a framework for his claim of being the Great Monarch prophesied by Nostradamus. Evidence presented in support of its historical existence and activities before 1956 was discovered to have been forged and then planted in various locations around France by Plantard and his accomplices. Nevertheless, many conspiracy theorists still persist in believing that the Priory of Sion is an ageold cabal that conceals a subversivesecret. The Priory of Sion myth has been exhaustively debunked by journalists and scholars as one of the great hoaxes of the 20th century. Some skeptics have expressed concern that the proliferation and popularity of books, websites and films inspired by this hoax have contributed to the problem of conspiracy theories, pseudohistory and other confusions becoming moremainstream. Others are troubled by the romantic reactionary ideology unwittingly promoted in these works. Contents [hide] 1 History 2 Myth o 2.1 Plantard's plot o 2.2 The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail o 2.3 The Messianic Legacy o 2.4 Revised myth o 2.5 Pelat Affair o 2.6 Sandri revival o 2.7 The Da Vinci Code o 2.8 The Sion Revelation o 2.9 Bloodline movie 3 Alleged Grand Masters 4 Notes 5 External links History The fraternal organisation was founded in the town of Annemasse, Haute-Savoie in eastern France in 1956. The 1901 French law of Associations required that the Priory of Sion be registered with the government; although the statutes and the registration Documents are dated 7 May 1956, the registration took place at the subprefecture of Saint-Julien-en-Genevois on 25 June 1956 and this was announced in the Journal Officiel de la République Française on 20 July 1956. The Headquarters of the Priory of Sion and its journal Circuit were based in the apartment of Plantard, in a social housing block known as Sous-Cassan newly constructed in 1956. The founders and signatories inscribed with their real names and aliases were Pierre Plantard, also known as "Chyren", and André Bonhomme, also known as "Stanis Bellas". Bonhomme was the President while Plantard was the Secretary General. The registration documents also included the names of Jean Deleaval as the Vice-President and Armand Defago as the Treasurer. The offices of the Priory of Sion and its journal Circuit were located at Plantard's apartment. The choice of the name "Sion" was based on a popular local feature, a hill south of Annemasse in France, known as Mont Sion, where the founders intended to establish a retreat center. The accompanying title to the name was "Chevalerie d'Institutions et Règles Catholiques d'Union Indépendante et Traditionaliste": this subtitle forms the acronym CIRCUIT and translates in English as "Knighthood of Catholic Rule and Institution and of Independent Traditionalist Union". The statutes of the Priory of Sion indicate its purpose was to allow and encourage members to engage in studies and mutual aid. The articles of the association expressed the goal of creating a Traditionalist Catholic chivalric order.Article 7 of the statutes of the Priory of Sion stated that its members were expected "to carry out good deeds, to help the Roman Catholic Church, teach the truth, defend the weak and the oppressed". Towards the end of 1956 the association had planned to forge partnerships with the local Catholic Church of the area which would have involved a school bus service run by both the Priory of Sion and the church of Saint-Joseph in Annemasse. Plantard is described as the President of the Tenants' Association of Annemasse in the issues of Circuit. The bulk of the activities of the Priory of Sion, however, bore no resemblance to the objectives as outlined in its statutes: Circuit, the official journal of the Priory of Sion, was indicated as a news bulletin of an "organisation for the defence of the rights and the freedom of affordable housing" rather than for the promotion of chivalryinspired charitable work. The first issue of the journal is dated 27 May 1956, and, in total, twelve issues appeared. Some of the articles took a political position in the local council elections. Others criticised and even attacked real-estate developers of Annemasse. According to a letter written by Léon Guersillon the Mayor of Annemasse in 1956, contained in the folder holding the 1956 Statutes of the Priory of Sion in the subprefecture of Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, Plantard was given a six-month sentence in 1953 for fraud. The formally registered association was dissolved some time after October 1956 but intermittently revived for different reasons by Plantard between 1961 and 1993, though in name and on paper only. The Priory of Sion is considered dormant by the subprefecture because it has indicated no activities since 1956. According to French law, subsequent references to the Priory bear no legal relation to that of 1956 and no one, other than the original signatories, is entitled to use its name in an official capacity. André Bonhomme played no part in the association after 1956. He officially resigned in 1973 when he heard that Plantard was linking his name with the association. In light of Plantard's death in 2000, there is no one who is currently alive who has official permission to use the name. Myth Plantard's plot Primarily motivated by grandiosity, a romantic reactionary ideology, and the prospect of fame and fortune, Plantard set out to have the Priory of Sion perceived as a prestigious esoteric Christian chivalric order, whose members would be people of influence in the fields of finance, politics and philosophy, devoted to installing the "Great Monarch", prophesied by Nostradamus, on the throne of France. Plantard's choice of the pseudonym "Chyren" was a reference to "Chyren Selin", Nostradamus's anagram for the name for this eschatological figure. Between 1961 and 1984, Plantard contrived a mythical pedigree for the Priory of Sion claiming that it was the offshoot of a real Roman Catholic religious order housed in the Abbey of Our Lady of Mount Zion, which had been founded in the Kingdom of Jerusalem during the First Crusade in 1099 and later absorbed by the Jesuits in 1617. The mistake is often made that this Abbey of Sion was a Priory of Sion, but there is a difference between an abbey and a priory.Calling his original 1956 group "Priory of Sion" presumably gave Plantard the later idea to claim that his organisation had been historically founded by crusading knight Godfrey of Bouillon on Mount Zion near Jerusalem during the Middle Ages. The tomb inscribed with the cryptic phrase "Et in Arcadia ego" in Nicolas Poussin's late 1630s painting Arcadian Shepherds was appropriated for Priory of Sion myth-making, first utilised in 1964. Furthermore, Plantard was inspired by a 1960 magazine Les Cahiers de l'Histoire to center his personal genealogical claims, as found in the "Priory of Sion documents", on the Merovingian kingDagobert II, who had been assassinated in the 7th century. He also adopted "Et in Arcadia ego ...", a slightly altered version of a Latin phrase that most famously appears as the title of two paintings by Nicolas Poussin, as the motto of both his family and the Priory of Sion, because the tomb which appears in these paintings resembled one in the Les Pontils area near Rennes-le-Château. This tomb would become a symbol for his dynastic claims as the last legacy of the Merovingians on the territory of Razès, left to remind the select few who have been initiated into thesemysteries that the "lost king", Dagobert II, would figuratively come back in the form of a hereditary pretender. To give credibility to the fabricated lineage and pedigree, Plantard and his friend, Philippe de Chérisey, needed to create "independent evidence". So during the 1960s, they created and deposited a series of false documents, the most famous of which was entitled Dossiers Secrets d'Henri Lobineau ("The Secret Files of Henri Lobineau"), at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. During the same decade, Plantard commissioned de Chérisey to forge two medieval parchments. These parchments contained encrypted messages that referred to the Priory of Sion. They adapted, and used to their advantage, the earlier false claims put forward by Noël Corbu that a Catholic priest named Bérenger Saunière had supposedly discovered ancient parchments inside a pillar while renovating his church in Rennes-le-Château in 1891. Inspired by the popularity of media reports and books in France about the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls in the West Bank, they hoped this same theme would attract attention to their parchments. Their version of the parchments was intended to prove Plantard's claims about the Priory of Sion being a medieval society that was the source of the "underground stream" of esotericism in Europe. Plantard then enlisted the aid of author Gérard de Sède to write a book based on his unpublished manuscript and forged parchments, alleging that Saunière had discovered a link to a hidden treasure. The 1967 book L'or de Rennes, ou La vie insolite de Bérenger Saunière, curé de Rennes-le-Château ("The Gold of Rennes, or The Strange Life of Bérenger Saunière, Priest of Rennes-le-Château"), which was later published in paperback under the title Le Trésor Maudit de Rennes-le-Château ("The Accursed Treasure of Rennes-leChâteau") in 1968, became a popular read in France. It included copies of the found parchments (the originals were of course never produced), though it did not provide the decoded hidden texts contained within them. One of the Latin texts in the parchments was copied from the Novum Testamentum, an attempted restoration of the Vulgate by John Wordsworth and Henry White. The other text was copied from the Codex Bezae. Based on the wording used, the versions of the Latin texts found in the parchments can be shown to have been copied from books first published in 1889 and 1895, which is problematic considering that de Sède's book was trying to make a case that these documents were centuries old. In 1969, English actor and science-fiction scriptwriter Henry Lincoln became intrigued after reading Le Trésor Maudit. He discovered one of the encrypted messages, which read "À Dagobert II Roi et à Sion est ce trésor, et il est là mort" ("To Dagobert II, King, and to Sion belongs this treasure and he is there dead"). This was possibly an allusion to the tomb and shrine of Sigebert IV, a real or mythical son of Dagobert II which would not only prove that the Merovingian dynasty did not end with the death of the king but that the Priory of Sion has been entrusted with the duty to protect his relics like a treasure. Lincoln expanded on the conspiracy theories, writing his own books on the subject, and inspiring and presenting three BBC Two Chronicle documentaries between 1972-1979 about the alleged mysteries of the Rennes-le-Château area. In response to a tip from Gérard de Sède, Lincoln claims he was also the one who discovered the Dossiers Secrets, a series of planted genealogies which appeared to further confirm the link with the extinct Merovingian bloodline. The documents claimed that the Priory of Sion and the Knights Templar were two fronts of one unified organisation with the same leadership until 1188. Letters in existence dating from the 1960s written by Plantard, de Chérisey and de Sède to each other confirm that the three were engaging in an out-and-out hoax. The letters describe schemes to combat criticisms of their various allegations and ways they would make up new allegations to try to keep the hoax alive. These letters (totalling over 100) are in the possession of French researcher Jean-Luc Chaumeil, who has also retained the original envelopes. Jean-Luc Chaumeil was part of the Priory of Sion hoax ring during the 1970s, and wrote books and articles about Plantard and the Priory of Sion before leaving it during the late 1970s and exposing Plantard's past in French books. A letter later discovered at the subprefecture of Saint-Julien-en-Genevois also indicated that Plantard had a criminal conviction as a confidence trickster. The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail For more details on this topic, see The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. After reading Le Trésor Maudit, Lincoln persuaded BBC Two to devote three episodes in their Chronicle documentary series to the topic. These became quite popular and generated thousands of responses. Lincoln then joined forces withMichael Baigent and Richard Leigh for further research. This led them to the pseudohistorical Dossiers Secrets at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, which though alleging to portray hundreds of years of medieval history, were actually all written by Plantard and de Chérisey under the pseudonym of "Philippe Toscan du Plantier". Unaware that the documents had been forged, Lincoln, Baigent and Leigh used them as a major source for their 1982 controversial non-fiction book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, in which they presented the following myths as facts to support their hypotheses: there is a secret society known as the Priory of Sion, which has a long history starting in 1099, and had illustrious Grand Masters including Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton; it created the Knights Templar as its military arm and financial branch; and it is devoted to installing the Merovingian dynasty, that ruled the Franks from 457 to 751, on the thrones of France and the rest of Europe. However, the authors re-interpreted the Dossiers Secrets in the light of their own interest in undermining the Roman Catholic Church's institutional reading of Judeo-Christian history. Contrary to Plantard's initial Franco-Israelist claim that the Merovingians were only descended from the Tribe of Benjamin, they asserted that: the Priory of Sion protects Merovingian dynasts because they may be the lineal descendants of the historical Jesus and his alleged wife, Mary Magdalene, traced further back to King David; the legendary Holy Grail is simultaneously the womb of saint Mary Magdalene and the sacred royal bloodline she gave birth to; and the Church tried to kill off all remnants of this bloodline and their supposed guardians, the Cathars and the Templars, so popes could hold the episcopal throne through the apostolic succession of Peter without fear of it ever beingusurped by an antipope from the hereditary succession of Mary Magdalene. The authors therefore concluded that the modern goals of the Priory of Sion are: the public revelation of the lost treasure of the Temple in Jerusalem, which supposedly contains genealogical records that prove the Merovingian dynasty was of the Davidic line, to facilitate Merovingian restoration in France; the re-institutionalization of chivalry and the promotion of pan-European nationalism; the establishment of a theocratic "United States of Europe": a Holy European Empire politically and religiously unified through the imperial cult of a Merovingian Great Monarch who occupies both the throne of Europe and the Holy See; and the actual governance of Europe residing with the Priory of Sion through a single-party European Parliament. The authors also incorporated the antisemitic and anti-Masonic tract known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion into their story, concluding that it was actually based on the master plan of the Priory of Sion. They presented it as the most persuasive piece of evidence for the existence and activities of the Priory of Sion by arguing that: the original text on which the published version of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was based had nothing to do with Judaism or an "international Jewish conspiracy". It issued from a Masonic body practicing the Scottish Ritewhich incorporated the word "Zion" in its name; the original text was not intended to be released publicly, but was a program for gaining control of Freemasonry as part of a strategy to infiltrate and reorganise church and state according to esoteric Christian principles; after a failed attempt to gain influence in the court of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, Sergei Nilus changed the original text to forge an inflammatory tract in 1903 to discredit the esoteric clique around Papus by implying they were Judaeo-Masonic conspirators; and some esoteric Christian elements in the original text were ignored by Nilus and hence remained unchanged in the antisemitic canard he published. In reaction to this memetic synthesis of investigative journalism with religious conspiracism, many secular conspiracy theorists added the Priory of Sion to their list of secret societies collaborating or competing to manipulate political happenings from behind the scenes in their bid for world domination. Some occultists speculated that the emergence of the Priory of Sion and Plantard closely follows The Prophecies by M. Michel Nostradamus (unaware that Plantard was intentionally trying to fulfill them). Fringe Christian eschatologists countered that it was a fulfilment of prophecies found in the Book of Revelation and further proof of an anti-Christian conspiracy of epic proportions. However, professional historians and scholars from related fields do not accept The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail as a serious dissertation, and regard it as one of the best examples of "counterknowledge". French authors like Franck Marie (1978), Pierre Jarnac (1985), (1988), Jean-Luc Chaumeil (1994), and more recently Marie-France Etchegoin and Frédéric Lenoir (2004), Massimo Introvigne (2005), Jean-Jacques Bedu (2005),, and Bernardo Sanchez Da Motta (2005), have never taken Plantard and the Priory of Sion as seriously as Lincoln, Baigent and Leigh. They eventually concluded that it was all a hoax, outlining in detail the reasons for their verdict, and giving detailed evidence that the Holy Blood authors had not reported comprehensively. They imply that this evidence had been ignored by Lincoln, Baigent, and Leigh to bolster the mythical version of the Priory's history that was developed by Plantard during the early 1960s after meeting author Gérard de Sède. The Messianic Legacy In 1987, Lincoln, Baigent and Leigh published The Messianic Legacy, a sequel to The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. The authors assert that the Priory of Sion is not only the archetypal cabal but an ideal repository of the cultural legacy of Jewish messianism that could end the ―crisis of meaning‖ within the Western world by providing a Merovingian sacred king as a messianic figure in which the West and, by extension, humanity can place its trust. However, the authors are led to believe by Plantard that he has resigned as Grand Master of the Priory of Sion in 1984 and that the organisation has since gone underground in reaction to both an internal power struggle between Plantard and an ―Anglo-American contingent‖ as well as a campaign of character assassination against Plantard in the press and books written by skeptics. Although Lincoln, Baigent and Leigh remain convinced that the pre-1956 history of the Priory of Sion is true, they confess to the possibility that all of Plantard's claims about a post-1956 Priory of Sion were part of an elaborate hoax to build a cult of personality and cult of intelligence around himself in French esoteric circles. Revised myth In 1989, Plantard tried but failed to salvage his reputation and agenda as a mystagogue in esoteric circles by claiming that the Priory of Sion had actually been founded in 1681 at Rennes-le-Château, and was focused more on harnessing the paranormal power of ley lines and sunrise lines, and a promontory called "Roc Noir" (Black Rock) in the area, than installing a Merovingian pretender on the restored throne of France. In 1990, Plantard revised himself by claiming he was only descended from a cadet branch of the line of Dagobert II, while arguing that the direct descendant was really Otto von Habsburg. Pelat Affair In September 1993, while investigative judge Thierry Jean-Pierre was investigating the activities of multimillionaire Roger-Patrice Pelat in the context of the Pechiney-Triangle Affair, he was informed that Pelat may have once been Grand Master of an esoteric society known as the Priory of Sion. Pelat's name had been on Plantard's list of Grand Masters since 1989. In fact, Pelat had died in 1989, while he was being indicted for insider trading - "délit d'initié" in French. Plantard may have been naive about financial terms and interpreted the word "initié" esoterically, to mean "initiate". Following a long established pattern, Plantard "recruited" the "initiate" Pelat soon after his death and included him as the most recent Priory of Sion Grand Master. Plantard had first claimed that Pelat had been a Grand Master in a Priory of Sion pamphlet dated 8 March 1989, then claimed it again later in a 1990 issue of Vaincre, the revived publication of Alpha Galates, a pseudo-chivalric order created by Plantard in Vichy France to support the "National Revolution". Pelat had been a friend of François Mitterrand, then President of France, and at the centre of a scandal involving French Prime Minister Pierre Bérégovoy. As an investigative judge, Jean-Pierre could not dismiss any information brought to his attention pertaining to the case, especially if it might have led to a scandal similar to the one implicating an illegal Masonic lodge named Propaganda Due in the 1982 Banco Ambrosiano bank failure in Italy, Jean-Pierre ordered a search of Plantard's home. The search turned up a hoard of false documents, including some proclaiming Plantard the true king of France. Plantard admitted under oath that he had fabricated everything, including Pelat's involvement with the Priory of Sion. Plantard was threatened with legal action by the Pelat family and therefore disappeared to his house in southern France. He was 74 years old at the time. Nothing more was heard of him until he died in Paris on 3 February 2000.  Sandri revival On 27 December 2002, an open letter announced the revival of the Priory of Sion as an integral traditionalist esoteric society, which stated that: "The Commanderies of Saint-Denis, Millau, Geneva and Barcelona are fully operative. According to the Tradition, the first Commanderie is under the direction of a woman", claiming there were 9,841 members. It was signed by Gino Sandri (who claims to be Plantard's former private secretary) under the title of General Secretary, and by "P. Plantard" (Le Nautonnier, G. Chyren). Sandri is a well-versed occultist who has spent his life infiltrating esoteric societies only to get expelled from them. After interviewing Sandri, independent researcher Laurent Octonovo Buccholtzer wrote: I’ve personally met this Gino Sandri on one occasion, and I had the opportunity to have a really good talk with him, but I think that he's simply seeking attention. He seemed to me to be something of a mythomaniac, which would certainly be an excellent qualification for being Secretary of the Priory of Sion. During our conversation he said something in passing that I found quite extraordinary. He said, ―Ultimately, what is the Priory of Sion? It's nothing more than a well-known brand name, but with goodness knows what behind it?‖ He gave a good brief account of the phenomenon of the Priory of Sion. Thanks to Dan Brown, hundreds of millions of people now have ―brand awareness‖, and several million of them seem to take it seriously. The Da Vinci Code For more details on this topic, see The Priory of Sion in the Da Vinci Code. As a result of Dan Brown's best-selling 2003 conspiracy fiction novel The Da Vinci Code and the subsequent 2006 film, there has been a new level of public interest in the Priory of Sion. Brown's novel promotes the mythical version of the Priory but departs from the ultimate conclusions presented in The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Rather than plotting to create a Federal Europe ruled by a Merovingian sacred king descended from the historical Jesus, the Priory of Sion initiates its members into a mystery cult seeking to restore the feminist theology necessary for a complete understanding of early Christianity, which was supposedly suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church. The author has presented this speculation as fact in his non-fiction preface, as well as in his public appearances and interviews. Furthermore, in their 1987 sequel The Messianic Legacy, Lincoln, Baigent and Leigh suggested that there was a current conflict between the Priory of Sion and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which they speculated might have originated from an earlier rivalry between the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller during the Crusades. However, for the dramatic structure of The Da Vinci Code, Brown chose the controversial Roman Catholic prelature Opus Dei as the Assassini-like nemesis of the Priory of Sion, despite the fact that no author had ever argued that there is a conflict between these two groups. The Sion Revelation Further conspiracy theories were reported in the 2006 non-fiction book The Sion Revelation: The Truth About the Guardians of Christ's Sacred Bloodline by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince (authors of the 1997 non-fiction book The Templar Revelation, the principal source for Dan Brown's claims about hidden messages in the work of Leonardo da Vinci). They accepted that the pre-1956 history of the Priory of Sion was a hoax created by Plantard, and that his claim that he was a Merovingian dynast was a lie. However, they insist that this was part of a complex red herring intended to distract the public from the hidden agenda of Plantard and his "controllers". They argue that the Priory of Sion was a front organisation for one of the many crypto-political societies which have been plotting to create a "United States of Europe" in line with French occultist Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre's synarchist vision of an ideal form of government. Bloodline movie The 2008 documentary Bloodline  by Bruce Burgess, a filmmaker with an interest in paranormal claims, expands on the "Jesus bloodline" hypothesis and other elements of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Accepting as valid the testimony of an amateur archaeologist codenamed "Ben Hammott" relating to his discoveries made in the vicinity of Rennes-le-Château since 1999; Burgess claims Ben has found the treasure of Bérenger Saunière: a mummified corpse, which they believe is Mary Magdalene, in an underground tomb they claim is connected to both the Knights Templar and the Priory of Sion. In the film, Burgess interviews several people with alleged connections to the Priory of Sion, including a Gino Sandri and Nicolas Haywood. A book by one of the documentary's researchers, Rob Howells, entitled Inside the Priory of Sion: Revelations from the World's Most Secret Society - Guardians of the Bloodline of Jesuspresented the version of the Priory of Sion as given in the 2008 documentary, which contained several erroneous assertions, such as the claim that Plantard believed in the Jesus bloodline hypothesis. By 21 March 2012 Ben Hammott confessed and apologised on Podcast interview (using his real name Bill Wilkinson) that everything to do with the tomb and related artifacts was a hoax; revealing that the actual tomb was now destroyed, being part of a full sized set located in a warehouse in England.  Alleged Grand Masters The mythical Priory of Sion was supposedly led by a "Nautonnier", an Old French word for a navigator, which means Grand Master in their internal esoteric nomenclature. The following list of Grand Masters is derived from the Dossiers Secrets d'Henri Lobineau compiled by Plantard under the nom de plume of "Philippe Toscan du Plantier" in 1967. All those named on this list had died before that date. All but two are also found on lists of alleged ―Imperators‖ (supreme heads) and ―distinguished members‖ of the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis which circulated in France at the time when Plantard was in touch with this Rosicrucian Order. Most of those named share the common thread of being known for having an interest in the occult or heresy. Leonardo da Vinci, alleged to be the Priory of Sion's 12th Grand Master The Dossiers Secrets asserted that the Priory of Sion and the Knights Templar always shared the same Grand Master until a schism occurred during the "Cutting of the elm" incident in 1188. Following that event, the Grand Masters of the Priory of Sion are listed in French as being: 1. Jean de Gisors (1188–1220) 2. Marie de Saint-Clair (1220–1266) 3. Guillaume de Gisors (1266–1307) 4. Edouard de Bar (1307–1336) 5. Jeanne de Bar (1336–1351) 6. Jean de Saint-Clair (1351–1366) 7. Blanche d'Évreux (1366–1398) 8. Nicolas Flamel (1398–1418) 9. René d'Anjou (1418–1480) 10. Iolande de Bar (1480–1483) 11. Sandro Filipepi (1483–1510) 12. Léonard de Vinci (1510–1519) 13. Connétable de Bourbon (1519–1527) 14. Ferdinand de Gonzague (1527–1575) 15. Louis de Nevers (1575–1595) 16. Robert Fludd (1595–1637) 17. J. Valentin Andrea (1637–1654) 18. Robert Boyle (1654–1691) 19. Isaac Newton (1691–1727) 20. Charles Radclyffe (1727–1746) 21. Charles de Lorraine (1746–1780) 22. Maximilian de Lorraine (1780–1801) 23. Charles Nodier (1801–1844) 24. Victor Hugo (1844–1885) 25. Claude Debussy (1885–1918) 26. Jean Cocteau (1918–1963) A later document, Le Cercle d'Ulysse, identifies François Ducaud-Bourget, a prominent Traditionalist Catholic priest who Plantard had worked for as a sexton during World War II, as the Grand Master following Cocteau's death. Plantard himself is later identified as the next Grand Master. When the Dossiers Secrets were exposed as a forgery by French researchers, Plantard kept quiet. During his 1989 attempt to make a comeback and revive the Priory of Sion, Plantard sought to distance himself from the discredited first list, and published a second list of Priory Grand Masters, which included the names of the deceased Roger-Patrice Pelat, and his own son Thomas Plantard de Saint-Clair: 1. Jean-Tim Negri d'Albes (1681–1703) 2. François d'Hautpoul (1703–1726) 3. André-Hercule de Fleury (1726–1766) 4. Charles de Lorraine (1766–1780) 5. Maximilian de Lorraine (1780–1801) 6. Charles Nodier (1801–1844) 7. Victor Hugo (1844–1885) 8. Claude Debussy (1885–1918) 9. Jean Cocteau (1918–1963) 10. François Balphangon (1963–1969) 11. John Drick (1969–1981) 12. Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair (1981) 13. Philippe de Chérisey (1984–1985) 14. Roger-Patrice Pelat (1985–1989) 15. Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair (1989) 16. Thomas Plantard de Saint-Clair (1989) In 1993 Plantard acknowledged that both lists were fraudulent when he was investigated by a judge during the Pelat Affair. Opus Dei From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Redirected from Opus dei) For other uses, see Opus Dei (disambiguation). Opus Dei Seal of the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei Formation October 2, 1928 , 1928(83 years ago) Type Personal prelature Purpose/focus Sanctification of ordinary life Headquarters Viale Bruno Buozzi, 73,00197 Rome, Italy Coordinates 41°55′18.4″N12°29′2.6″ECoordinates: 41°55′18.4″N 12°29′2.6″E Region served Worldwide Membership c. 90 000 Prelate Bishop Javier Echevarría Main organ General Council Central Advisory Parent organization Catholic Church Website www.opusdei.org Saint Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei Opus Dei, formally known as The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei (Latin: Prelatura Sanctae Crucis et Operis Dei), is an institution of the Catholic Church that teaches that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity. The majority of its membership are lay people, with secular priests under the governance of a prelate (bishop) elected by specific members and appointed by the Pope. Opus Dei is Latin for Work of God; hence the organization is often referred to by members and supporters as the Work. Founded in Spain in 1928 by the Catholic priest St. Josemaría Escrivá, Opus Dei was given final approval in 1950 by Pope Pius XII. In 1982, by decision of Pope John Paul II, the Catholic Church made it into a personal prelature—that is, the jurisdiction of its own bishop covers the persons in Opus Dei wherever they are, rather than geographical dioceses. As of 2010, members of the Prelature numbered 90,260. Lay persons, men and women, numbered 88,245, while there were 2015 priests. These figures do not include the diocesan priest members of Opus Dei's Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, estimated to number 2000 in the year 2005. Members are in more than 90 countries. About 70% of Opus Dei members live in their private homes, leading traditional Catholic family lives with secular careers, while the other 30% are celibate, of whom the majority live in Opus Dei centres. Opus Dei organizes training in Catholic spirituality applied to daily life. Aside from personal charity and social work, Opus Dei members are involved in running universities, university residences, schools, publishing houses, and technical and agricultural training centers. Opus Dei has been described as the most controversial force within the Catholic Church. According to several journalists who researched Opus Dei separately, most of the criticisms against Opus Dei are mere myths created by its opponents, and Opus Dei is considered a sign of contradiction. Several popes and other Catholic leaders have endorsed what they see as its innovative teaching on the sanctifying value of work, and its fidelity to Catholic beliefs. In 2002, Pope John Paul II canonized Escrivá, and called him "the saint of ordinary life." Controversies about Opus Dei have centered on criticisms of its alleged secretiveness, its recruiting methods, the alleged strict rules governing members, the practice by celibate members of mortification of the flesh, its alleged elitism and misogyny, the alleged right-leaning politics of most of its members, and the alleged participation by some in authoritarian or extreme right-wing governments, especially the Francoist Government of Spain until 1978. Within the Catholic Church, Opus Dei is also criticized for allegedly seeking independence and more influence. In recent years, Opus Dei has received international attention due to the novel The Da Vinci Code and its film version of 2006, both of which many prominent Christians and non-believers protested as misleadingly inaccurate and anti-Catholic. Contents [hide] 1 History o 1.1 Foundational period o 1.2 Post-foundational years 2 Spirituality o 2.1 Doctrine o 2.2 Prayers o 2.3 Mortification 3 Organization and activities o 3.1 Governance o 3.2 Membership o 3.3 Activities 4 Relations with Catholic leaders 5 Controversy o 5.1 Supporting views o 5.2 Critical views o 5.3 Other views 6 Opus Dei in popular culture 7 See also 8 Footnotes 9 Further reading 10 External links o 10.1 Opus Dei Official sites o 10.2 Sites supporting Opus Dei o 10.3 Sites critical of Opus Dei History Escrivá surrounded by working people, in aFilipino painting entitled, Magpakabanal sa Gawain or "Be holy through your work". See also: Timeline of Opus Dei Foundational period Opus Dei was founded by a Catholic priest, Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer|Josemaría Escrivá, on 2 October 1928 in Madrid, Spain. According to Escrivá, on that day he experienced a vision in which he "saw Opus Dei". He gave the organization the name "Opus Dei", which in Latin means "Work of God," in order to underscore the belief that the organization was not his (Escrivá's) work, but was rather God's work. Throughout his life, Escrivá held that the founding of Opus Dei had a supernatural character. Escrivá summarized Opus Dei's mission as a way of helping ordinary Christians "to understand that their life... is a way of holiness and evangelization... And to those who grasp this ideal of holiness, the Work offers the spiritual assistance and training they need to put it into practice." Initially, Opus Dei was open only to men, but in 1930, Escrivá started to admit women, based on what he believed to be a communication from God. In 1936, the organisation suffered a temporary setback with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, as many Catholic priests and religious figures, including Escrivá, were forced into hiding (the Catholic Church actively supported the Nationalist rebels). The many atrocities committed during the civil war included the murder and rape of religious figures by antiFranco Anarchists. After the civil war was won by GeneralFrancisco Franco, Escrivá was able to return to Madrid. Escriva himself recounted that it was in Spain where Opus Dei found "the greatest difficulties" because of traditionalists who he felt misunderstood Opus Dei's ideas. Despite this, Opus Dei flourished during the years of the Franquismo, spreading first throughout Spain, and after 1945, expanding internationally. In 1939, Escrivá published The Way, a collection of 999 maxims concerning spirituality. In the 1940s, Opus Dei found an early critic in the Jesuit Superior General Wlodimir Ledochowski, who told the Vatican that he considered Opus Dei "very dangerous for the Church in Spain," citing its "secretive character" and calling it "a form of Christian Masonry." In 1946, Escrivá moved the organization's headquarters to Rome. In 1950, Pope Pius XII granted definitive approval to Opus Dei, thereby allowing married people to join the organisation. Post-foundational years In 1975, Escriva died and was succeeded by Álvaro del Portillo. In 1982, Opus Dei was made into a personal prelature. This means that Opus Dei is part of the universal Church, and the apostolate of the members falls under the direct jurisdiction of the Prelate of Opus Dei wherever they are. As to "what the law lays down for all the ordinary faithful", the lay members of Opus Dei, being no different from other Catholics, "continue to be ... under the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop", in the words of John Paul II's Ut Sit. In 1994, Javier Echevarria became Prelate upon the death of his predecessor. History of the spread of Opus Dei by country One-third of the world's bishops sent letters petitioning for the canonization of Escrivá. Escriva was beatified in 1992 in the midst of controversy prompted by questions about Escriva's suitability for sainthood. In 2002, approximately 300,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square on the day Pope John Paul II canonised Josemaría Escrivá. According to one author, "Escrivá is... venerated by millions". There are other members whose process of beatification has been opened: Ernesto Cofiño, a father of five children and a pioneer in paediatric research in Guatemala; Montserrat Grases, a teenage Catalan student who died of cancer; Toni Zweifel, a Swiss engineer; Tomás Alvira and wife, Paquita Domínguez, a Spanish married couple; Bishop Álvaro del Portillo and Father José Luis Múzquiz de Miguel. During the pontificate of John Paul II, two members of Opus Dei, Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne and Julián Herranz Casado, were made cardinals. In September 2005, Pope Benedict XVI blessed a newly installed statue of Josemaria Escriva placed in an outside wall niche of St Peter's Basilica, a place for founders of Catholic organisations. During that same year, Opus Dei received some unwanted attention due to the extraordinary success of the novel The Da Vinci Code, in which both Opus Dei and the Catholic Church itself are depicted negatively. The film version was released globally in May 2006, further polarising views on the organisation. Spirituality Doctrine Main article: Teachings of Opus Dei Opus Dei is an organisation of the Catholic Church. As such, it shares the doctrines of the Catholic Church. Opus Dei places special emphasis on certain aspects of Catholic doctrine. A central feature of Opus Dei's theology is its focus on the lives of the ordinary Catholics who are neither priests nor monks. Opus Dei emphasises the "universal call to holiness": the belief that everyone should aspire to be a saint, that sanctity is within the reach of everyone, not just a few special individuals. Opus Dei does not have monks or nuns, and only a minority of its members are part of the priesthood. A related characteristic is Opus Dei's emphasis on uniting spiritual life with professional, social, and family life. Members of Opus Dei lead ordinary lives, with traditional families and secular careers, and strive to "sanctify ordinary life". Indeed, Pope John Paul II called Escrivá "the saint of ordinary life". Similarly, Opus Dei stresses the importance of work and professional competence. While some religious orders encourage their members to withdraw from the material world, Opus Dei exhorts its members and all lay Catholics to "find God in daily life" and to perform their work excellently as a service to society and as a fitting offering to God. Opus Dei teaches that work not only contributes to social progress but is "a path to holiness", and its founder advised people to: "Sanctify your work. Sanctify yourself in your work. Sanctify others through your work." The biblical roots of this Catholic doctrine, according to the founder, are in the phrase "God created man to work" (Gen 2:15) and Jesus's long life as an ordinary carpenter in a small town. Escrivá, who stressed the Christian's duty to follow Christ's example, also points to the gospel account that Jesus "has done everything well" (Mk 7:37). The foundation of the Christian life, stressed Escrivá, is divine filiation: Christians are children of God, identified with Christ's life and mission. Other main features of Opus Dei, according to its official literature, are: freedom, respecting choice and taking personal responsibility; and charity, love of God above all and love of others. At the bottom of Escrivá's understanding of the ―universal call to holiness‖ are two dimensions, subjective and objective, according to Fernando Ocariz, a Catholic theologian and Vicar General of Opus Dei. The subjective is the call given to each person to become a saint, regardless of his place in society. The objective refers to what Escrivá calls Christian materialism: all of creation, even the most material situation, is a meeting place with God, and leads to union with Him. Different qualifiers have been used to describe Opus Dei's doctrine: radical, reactionary, faithful, revolutionary, ultraconservative, most modern, conservative. and liberal. Prayers See also: Interior life (Catholic theology) All members – whether married or unmarried, priests or laypeople – are trained to follow a 'plan of life', or 'the norms of piety', which are some traditional Catholic devotions. This is meant to follow the teaching mentioned in the Catholic Catechism to "pray at specific times...to nourish continual prayer," which in turn is based on Jesus' "pray at all times" (Luke 18:1), echoed by St. Paul's "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). According to Escriva, the vocation to Opus Dei is a calling to be a "contemplative in the middle of the world," who converts work and daily life into prayer. Daily norms: Heroic minute, waking up punctually and saying "Serviam!" (Latin: I will serve) Morning offering, fixing one's intentions to do everything for the glory of God Spiritual reading and reading the New Testament, a practice recommended by St. Paul and other saints Mental prayer, conversation with God Mass, Communion and Thanksgiving after Communion Rosary, a traditional Catholic devotion to Christ and to Mary The Preces (the common prayer of Opus Dei) Angelus prayer, which recalls Christian belief in God's becoming man Memorare prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary offered for the Opus Dei member in most need at that exact moment Visit to the Blessed Sacrament, a Catholic practice of greeting Jesus in the Eucharist Examination of conscience at the end of the day Three Hail Marys before bed to pray for the virtue of purity Short, spontaneous prayers throughout the day, offering up to God one's work, sufferings etc. Weekly norms: Confession, in pursuit of the Catholic recommendation on frequent confession a group meeting of spiritual formation ("the Circle") the praying of a Marian antiphon on Saturdays taking Psalm 2 as the basis of mental prayer on Tuesdays Additionally, members should participate yearly in a spiritual retreat; a three-week seminar every year is obligatory for numeraries, and a one-week seminar for supernumeraries. Also members are expected to make a day-trip pilgrimage where they recite 3 5-decade rosaries on the month of May in honour of Mary. Mortification See also: Mortification of the flesh Much public attention has focused on Opus Dei's practice of mortification — the voluntary offering up of discomfort or pain to God, this includes fasting, or in some circumstances self inflicted pain such as self flagellation. Mortification has a long history in many world religions, including the Catholic Church. It has been endorsed by Popes as a way of following Christ, who died in a bloody crucifixion and who gave this advice: "let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me." (Lk 9:23) Supporters say that opposition to mortification is rooted in having lost (1) the "sense of the enormity of sin" or offense against God, and the consequent penance, both interior and exterior, (2) the notions of "wounded human nature" and of concupiscence or inclination to sin, and thus the need for "spiritual battle," and (3) a spirit of sacrifice for love and "supernatural ends," and not only for physical enhancement. As a spirituality for ordinary people, Opus Dei focuses on performing sacrifices pertaining to normal duties and to its emphasis on charity and cheerfulness. Additionally, Opus Dei celibate members practise "corporal mortifications" such as sleeping without a pillow or sleeping on the floor, fasting or remaining silent for certain hours during the day. Critics state that self-mortification is a "startling," "extreme," and "questionable" practice — one that borders on masochism. Critics assert that "due to modern psychology and thinking, the practices which inflict pain are sometimes considered to be counterproductive to one's spiritual development, as they can easily lead to pride and an unhealthy attitude toward one's body."